There has been much debate both in media and in legislature regarding safety in mines. Much has been made of corporate accountability and the role played by training and preventative measures in keeping miners safe, and in fostering an environment in which safety is paramount.

With this in mind, MineWare Consulting has introduced its incident management system (IMS), which facilitates the recording of any safety, health, environment community (SHEC) related incidents that occur at a mine.

SHEC incidents are initially categorised as telephonic, consolidated risk assessment, significant incident report (SIR) or incident causal assessment method (ICAM). Telephonic input may be anonymous and after hours telephony is recorded for later input into IMS. Incidents are classified as pro-active (lead) or re-active (lag) and further categorisation qualifications result in automatic ‘risk ratings’ and ‘likelihood factors’ being assigned to each incident.

Incidents and corrective activities are assigned to a ‘responsible person’ and the relevant head of department. The ‘responsible person’ may, in turn, allocate sub-tasks to persons under their jurisdiction. Time constraint parameters are added for both primary and sub-activities and participants are informed via the IMS system and via email that a SHEC related task has been assigned to them. If the ‘responsible person’ does not respond within a set time period, the head of department is informed automatically by email. If the head of department fails to respond, the next level of management is also automatically informed. Locally termed as ‘closing the loop’ on incident reporting, nearly 100% compliance has been achieved in this manner.

Information gleaned from the analysis can be used to determine which type of incidents occur frequently, allowing the mine to implement a course-of-action as a preventative measure. In addition, high-risk activities can be identified and plans for training can be implemented to prevent and future incidents.

As an example, several months prior to the implementation of the IMS, a significant number of fall-of-ground incidents had occurred, with no fatalities, but the this particular issue had never been discussed in an incident forum because the incidents, in their entirety, had not been recognised. The IMS provides the analysis platform to easily identify and highlight these issues.

During the Department of Minerals and Energy’s safety compliance investigation, instigated by Thabo Mbeki, the IMS was examined and subsequently awarded a 5/5 rating with a recommendation that it should be installed on all mines.
According to MineWare manager, Ken Ansell, the system provides a very thorough methodology to manage risk and that, together with the promotion of a ‘family safety environment’ has resulted in a measurable trend of reduced reportable injuries). On one account this has been measured as a 30% – 33% reduction in such incidents.

In an industry governed by rigorous safety measures and strict analysis and reporting laws, the IMS provides solutions that comply with the Department of Minerals and Energy’s policy while keeping the process efficient and simple.

Paul Saker, MD of MineWare Consulting, comments: “We believe that the continued effort to improve safety in South African mines is of vital importance in the mining industry as a whole. We are proud to contribute software that can assist in making our gold and platinum mines a safer work environment for everybody.”