Exhibiting top health and safety standards

In the quest for zero harm, ASPASA members continue to maintain high levels of health and safety standards. With an average score of 88,91% in the annual 2022 ISHE Audit, members of the surface mining industry association have once again demonstrated total commitment to the health and safety of their employees, a key factor behind ASPASA’s seven-year run with no fatalities at member operations. By Munesu Shoko.
For the second year running, Afrimat’s Free State-based Qwa Qwa Quarry was the Top Performer in the 2022 ISHE Audit with a score of 97,25%.

The importance of appropriate health and safety compliance at quarry sites cannot be reiterated enough. This is the view of ASPASA ISHE auditor Marius van Deventer, who tells Quarrying Africa that quarry operators therefore need to ensure high levels of compliance to ensure that they are better equipped to manage risks to health and safety with regard to their operations.

With this in mind, the health and safety performances of ASPASA members have always been of a high standard, and 2022 was no different. “The audit outcomes of 2022 have once again shown that ASPASA members are fully committed to the health and safety of their employees and all stakeholders affected by their operations,” says Van Deventer.

Midmar Quarry was the overall runner-up for the second consecutive year, cementing its position as the Top Independent Performer in the process.

Audit outcome

A total of 85 operations participated in the 2022 audit, compared to 69 the previous year, achieving an average score of 88,91%, with the highest being 97,25% and the lowest of 37,5%. Testimony to the high level of compliance, 60% of the audited operations achieved scores of above 90%. A total of 14 operations achieved Showplace Status (95% +), while 38 attained 5 Shield Status (90-95%) and some 25 operations achieved 4 Shield Status (80-90%).

For the second year running, Afrimat’s Free State-based Qwa Qwa Quarry was the Top Performer, with a score of 97,25%. Midmar Quarry was the overall runner-up for the second consecutive year, cementing its position as the Top Independent Performer in the process.

“Other quarries should learn from these two operations, not only in maintaining leading practices and achieving top health and safety performances, but also in sustaining the high standards on a consistent basis,” says Van Deventer.

Audit scores

Showplace Status (95%+) 14 operations
5 Shield Status (90-95%) 38 operations
4 Shield Status (80-90%) 25 operations
3 Shield Status (70-80%) 6 operations
2 Shield Status (60-70%) 1 operation
1 Shield Status (50-60%) 0 operations
Less than 50% 1 operation


Qwa Qwa Quarry continues to set the standard in the ASPASA ISHE Audit.

Audit findings

While there were a few issues of concern highlighted in the audit findings, Van Deventer is encouraged by the overall positives. For example, he says, high health and safety conditions were sustained and maintained throughout the industry, under very difficult operating conditions. Employees are better informed about the requirements of safe working conditions. Consequently, no fatalities were recorded for the auditing period.

“We also noted a general improvement in the compliance with machine guarding requirements. This had been highlighted as an area which required greater attention in the 2021 audit. In addition, some operations made some much-needed modifications and improvements to their crushing and screening plants to further improve their health and safety standards,” explains Van Deventer.

On another positive note, mine development activities were made according to mine planning guidelines and no serious incidents of mine failure were recorded during the audit period.

Overall, Van Deventer says compliance with legal requirements, and setting of own standards and procedures, remain high throughout the industry. However, this does not safeguard operations against accidents or incidents and findings from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) inspectors. Consistent compliance on a day-to-day basis therefore needs to be prioritised.

“Feedback received from audited operations is encouraging and there is a consistent feeling in the industry that the audit process does add significant value to every operation, thus contributing to the health and safety of employees and the industry’s quest to achieve zero harm,” says Van Deventer.

For the industry to continue achieving high levels of health and safety performance, Van Deventer says the sharing of information is crucial. He is encouraged by quarry managers’ eagerness to learn from each other to improve their audit scores and health and safety compliance at large.

“As an association, we call upon all members to continue sharing their leading practices with the rest of the ASPASA member base to ensure high levels of health and safety performances at an industry level,” he says.

ASPASA ISHE auditor Marius van Deventer.

Key concerns

While the industry achieved high scores on average, the 2022 audit also highlighted several areas which require the industry’s immediate attention. More importantly, there were too many lost time injuries (LTIs), disabling injuries and reportable injuries recorded during the audit period. The industry has also been called on to improve the identification of risks and/or non-compliances, as well as own inspections and machine pre-start inspections.

“For the 2023 audit, we have highlighted the need for operations to focus on the full implementation of effective Traffic Management Plans. There is also a need to improve trackless mobile machinery (TMM) pre-start checklists’ hazard classification. Operations should also prioritise housekeeping in plants to reduce dust exposure and exposure while machinery is running,” he says.

In addition, Van Deventer says operations should pay attention to accident/incident investigations to establish root causes of incidents and accidents on site.

“However, the results of the 2022 ISHE Audit are of an extremely high standard. Participating members should all be commended for their exceptional commitment to the quest for zero harm. We are confident that the recommendations noted in the 2022 audit will be executed in the 2023 audit, to ensure that ASPASA members maintain their top health and safety standards,” concludes Van Deventer.

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