Department of Mineral Resources
13 May 2019
A Guidance Note on Medico-Legal Investigations of Mine Deaths in the South African mining industry has been issued.
The mineral resources department published the Guidance Note in Government Gazette 42451.
It was drawn up in terms of the Mine Health and Safety Act.
According to the foreword, the Guidance Note flows from the “need to provide clarity on the process that must be followed for deaths that require a medico-legal autopsy”.
It is designed to guide all stakeholders on their roles and responsibilities in cases of natural, unnatural or uncertain mine death.
The Chief Inspector of Mines points out that the Guidance Note must be read together with the current regulatory framework on medico-legal post mortem investigations and should not be regarded as a separate protocol.
The objective of the Guidance Note is to “improve the understanding of the legal obligations that relate to medico-legal autopsies and to clarify the roles and responsibilities associated with the handling of deaths that occur in the mining industry”.
Challenges in terms of the investigations of deaths include uncertainties regarding the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, the need for specialists’ skills when performing medico-legal post mortems, sudden deaths reported without an associated accident or occurrence and the timeous conclusion of post mortem examinations.
Some of the issues covered in the Guidance Note include the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, medico-legal aspects to be considered, causes of deaths, human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and alleged suicide cases.
The Guidance Note came into effect on 31 March 2019.
It can be viewed at https://discover.sabinet.co.za/document/GGD158627.