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NUM commemorates 27th year of the Vaal Reef Disaster, 104 workers lost their lives

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NUM commemorates 27th year of the Vaal Reef Disaster, 104 workers lost their lives

Press Statement, 10 May 2022

NUM commemorates 27th year of the Vaal Reef Disaster, 104 workers lost their lives

Today marks the 27th year anniversary of the commemoration of the Vaal Reef Disaster that resulted in the loss of lives of 104 workers during the mine accident.
For the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the Vaal Reef Disaster was a turning point in the mining industry, and that resulted in the establishment of the Leon Commission of Inquiry in the mining industry.
The Leon Commission of Inquiry recommended a number of reforms within the sector that included amongst others, the drafting of the Mine Health and Safety Act (known as MHSA 29 of 1996) in order to provide a comprehensive legal framework for creating a healthy and safe working environment.
The Commission recommended the restructuring of the enforcement agency, the restructuring of research and information systems, the training and certification of employees in the industry. It also recommended the right to refuse dangerous work and to withdraw from dangerous working areas, right to information and the right to representation and participation of employees.
One of the most important objectives of the MHSA is to protect the health and safety of persons at the mines. The protection of health and safety of the employees at the mines would include measures to be put in place to prevent employees or persons at the mines from occupational injuries, occupational illnesses and fatalities resulting from either occupational injuries or illnesses.
One of the recommendations of the Leon Commission was to establish institutions where all the stakeholders would participate in ensuring that health and safety of employees in the industry is improved by means of regulating health and safety aspects in the mining industry.
With the promulgation of the MHSA, the Mine Health and Safety Council was promulgated in order to advise the Minister on health and at the mines and on any legislation affecting health and safety in the mines.
Since the promulgation of the MHSA of 1996, Mine Health and Safety Council's work has ensured that the occupation injuries and death are reduced and even adopted a slogans of "Every Mineworker Returning Home Unharmed and Zero Harm" which in a way reflects that the reduction of occupational injuries, illnesses and death are prioritised by the Mine Health and Safety Council.
Beside the efforts made by the Mine Health and Safety Council in reducing occupational injuries, illnesses and death in the mining industry, these accidents, injuries and illnesses still occur even though not at the rate at which they were occuring 27 years ago when the Vaal Reefs Disaster occured.
Even though the rate of occupational illnesses, injuries and death have decreased drastically, we still strive to achieve "Zero Harm" in the mining industry and ensure that the slogan of "Every mineworker returning home unharmed" is fully achieved.
The NUM continues to mourn the death of four mineworkers who lost their lives last Saturday at Harmony Gold's Kusasalethu operation near Carletonville. As a union we would like to convey our deepest condolences to their families, colleagues and friends.

For more detailed information, please contact:

Masibulele Naki, National Health & Safety Secretary, 073 333 7745 
Luphert Chilwane, NUM Media Officer, 083 809 3255

The National Union of Mineworkers
7 Rissik Street.
Cnr Frederick Johannesburg
Tel: 011 377 2111 Cell: 083 809 3257
Twitter: @Num_Media



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