Rock related safety is a major issue. The Chamber of Mines' Mine Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) initiative is helping to address it. Find out more by reading on.
In 2003, representatives of the South African Mining industry - employers, labour unions and government - set historic and significant milestones for health and safety, to be reached by 2013, en route to zero harm for all employees.
The Chamber of Mines realised that the milestones, let alone the targets, would not easily be met without significant effort on the part of mines. Therefore the Chamber of Mines Learning Hub was established and the Mine Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) process of adoption of leading practices (purposely not referred to as best practice) in the industry was established in 2008. The basis of the MOSH initiative is that excellent practices exist in the industry. Instead of each mine reinventing a practice, it would be quicker to find and document, and then share and adopt the practice with everyone in the industry.
The MOSH process involves identifying practices in the mining industry that are making a significant difference in health and safety on mines.
The mine that is using an identified leading practice is referred to as the source mine and the practice is documented there, including their approach to leadership behaviour (how leaders behave to reinforce desired behaviour or correct incorrect behaviour) and behavioural communications (how communications have been used to encourage the desired behaviours).
Another mine is then found to demonstrate to the rest of industry that the practice works for more than just the source mine. This mine is the demonstration mine.
Following the demonstration of the practice at this mine, a demonstration workshop is held for the mining industry. During the workshop mines are encouraged to join a community of practice for adoption (Copa). This is a forum to encourage mines to learn from each other and from the demonstration mine's experience.
The differentiator of the MOSH process from other previous attempts to share best practice between mines is the significance that is placed on the behaviour of employees of mines. The MOSH system stresses that the leading practice has not been adopted without also addressing leadership behaviour and behavioural communications associated with that practice. In other words one can implement a superb technology, but unless it is accompanied by leadership behaviour and behavioural communications, that is not the leading practice.
The leadership behaviour and behavioural communication models are obtained by conducting direct enquiry interviews with employees to find out what they think about a practice and what sort of leadership behaviour would support it or destroy it. The interviews reveal what the employees think, highlighting strengths and gaps in their thinking. The behavioural communications are designed to address these.
Falls of ground have been identified as a key area that will benefit from the Mosh system. Consistently, over many decades, falls of ground have been the biggest single cause of fatal and serious injuries in South African mines.
To date the Learning Hub's Falls of Ground Adoption Team has identified three leading practices in the mining industry that it believes may have the greatest impact on reducing the number of uncontrolled falls of ground. These practices are the entry examination and making safe procedure, the installation of netting with bolting in the stope face of narrow tabular stopes and the trigger action response plan (Tarp).
The first practice has been widely rolled out in the industry and the second has been demonstrated. A Copa is being formed for mines in the industry. The third practice is currently being demonstrated and a demonstration workshop is planned for mid-2012.
The practices identified are not high tech or even new practices. A number of mines have been using them successfully, usually applying good leadership behaviour and behavioural communication, although not necessarily calling their behavioural initiatives by these terms. However, there are many mines that are applying practices badly or not at all.
An important development in South African mining has been the Mining Charter. Recently, as part of the charter, mines are required to consider and report on the use of the MOSH leading practices that were finalised the previous year. This is an opportunity for the mines to give careful consideration to leading practices and their usefulness and applicability to their operations. They can then indicate why they do not consider them appropriate or if they have a similar practice that is equal to or surpasses the leading practice.
One of the notable and commendable aspects of the MOSH initiative is that it is not just for adoption amongst members of the Chamber of Mines. Non-chamber members are welcome to join a Copa or to receive guidance or literature from the Learning Hub. Indeed a number of non-chamber members are already benefiting from the MOSH initiative.
The awareness of the MOSH principles and the wide-scale adoption of leading practices, including the behavioural aspects, will have a positive impact on mine health and safety, especially with regard to uncontrolled falls of ground.