Department of Mineral Resources and Energy
Draft guidelines for the compilation of a mandatory code of practice for the mitigation and management of the COVID-19 outbreak in the mining sector have been published for comment.
Published in Government Gazette 43304, the draft guidelines were drawn up in terms of section 9(3) of the Mine Health and Safety Act of 1996.
The draft guidelines flow from a Labour Court order granted on 1 May 2020 instructing employers in the mining industry to prepare and implement a code of practice on COVID-19.
The court order also called on the Chief Inspector of Mines to publish guidelines on the code of practice in the Gazette by 18 May 2020.
The objective of the draft guidelines is to “assist employers to establish and maintain a COVID-19 mitigation and management programme at mines, which if properly implemented and complied with, would assist the health and safety of the mine’s employees”.
The draft guidelines also set out minimum requirements and best practices for the mitigation and management of a COVID-19 outbreak amongst mine employees returning to work and any other person/s at mines following the COVID-19 lockdown.
The intention is to ensure good health and safety of employees on and after the return to work.
It applies to all mines or part/s thereof, mine employees, irrespective of employment category, and contract employees in the local mining industry that might be exposed to COVID-19 in the performance of their duties.
Included in the proposed guidelines is status of mandatory code of practice; risk management; risk assessment and review; start-up procedure for mines; COVID-19 management programme; compliance with the code of practice and access to the code of practice and related documents.
Key elements to be addressed in the code of practice include risk assessment and review; start-up and on-going procedure for mines; COVID-19 management programme; monitoring and reporting and compensation for occupationally acquired coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Chief Inspector of Mines regards the guideline as a “living document which may need to be updated as new developments on the prevention and management of COVID-19 emerges”.
Comment is invited by 14 May 2020.