Strong safety guidelines and training at mines across the country must be implemented with the seriousness they deserve to avoid workplace accidents, says First Quantum Minerals Government Relations Specialist Dr Godwin Beene.
Speaking ahead of World Day for Safety and Health at Work on April 28, the industry leader noted that poor safety standards were not only a leading cause of serious injuries but also threatened the industry and the wider economy by depressing productivity.
“A company’s productivity boils down to its human capital’s efficiency and proficiency,” said Dr Beene. “A healthy and skilled workforce is one of the most important aspects of a business’ success, which in turn feeds into national economic growth. For a copper-dependent country like Zambia, poor mine safety has the potential to derail the country’s development objectives as injuries impact negatively on productivity while fatalities rob the country of its resource and altogether, hamper production of the country’s largest export commodity.”
Dr Beene explained: “As a company that prides itself on fostering community health and contributing positively to Zambia’s economic growth, FQM has made safety its biggest priority.”
The company has put in place a comprehensive skills development programme that is helping to improve operations and boost productivity at its Kansanshi Mine in Solwezi and Sentinel Mine at Kalumbila. Under this initiative, more than 5,000 employees, including management and contractors, have been trained in first aid at different levels, for example.
As a result of its robust safety interventions enshrined in its operational motto ‘No job is so important that it cannot be done safely’ FQM remains above the Zambia Chamber of Mines’ first aid standards, which stipulate that one miner for every five working on a project must be a qualified first aider.
The company continuously strives to provide a safe and healthy work environment for its employees and contractors by making in depth knowledge and application of all relevant laws and regulations.
FQM has put in place a training management system that monitors safety compliance and training requirements to ensure all personnel at the mine comply with the competency requirements of their respective jobs. Under its ‘THINK’ approach to safety, employees endeavor to Think safety by Taking the time to Highlight a hazard, Identify what could possibly go wrong leading to an accident, and then without fail, take the Necessary (safety) action(s) and Keep safe.
World Day for Safety and Health at Work is championed by the United Nations’ International Labour Organization (ILO) to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases. This year’s theme is “Anticipate, prepare and respond to crises – Invest Now in Resilient Occupational Safety and Health Systems”.