The Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) and the Southern African Development Community-Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) developed the Southern Africa Resource Barometer (SARB) as part of their contribution to already existing efforts to promote better management of natural resources for the benefit of all SADC citizens.
One of the sections in the barometer is on Working Conditions, Safety and Health Issues. This is an important section as mining can affect the health, safety and security of workers and mining communities. The negative impact of the exploitation of natural resources in Africa is very pronounced on workers and communities. Steps must also be taken to minimise the adverse impact of mining on the health of workers and the surrounding populations. A key recommendation of this section is that governments must establish competent Mining Health and Safety Commissions that can suspend or restrict mining activities on safety and health grounds, until the conditions that gave rise to the suspension or restriction have been addressed. The Health and Safety Commission must:
- Conduct regular monitoring and assessments of the working environment to identify any hazards to which the workers may be exposed and to assess their level of exposure; and
- Inform the workers, in a comprehensible manner, of the hazards associated with their work, the health risks involved, and relevant preventive and protective measures
These recommendations cannot be over emphasised especially against the background of the silicosis story below written by Tanya Charles from Sonke Gender Justice which was carried in the Mail & Guardian