THE increasing number of miners dying in accidents has been a source of concern among many stakeholders who question the safety standards in mining operations in the country.
With every year that comes, mining houses in Zambia either record injuries or deaths resulting from accidents.
It is in the wake of these occurrences that the Copperbelt Times explored the safety standards at Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), a company that is seeking to achieve a ‘harmless’ journey for its employees.
KCM, a major mining firm in Zambia, is the second largest employer with 16,500 employees. Out of these, 7,500 are permanent workers.
The giant mining company operates underground and open pit mines in Chingola, Chililabombwe and Nampundwe.
Despite the challenges it may face, KCM is noted for its improvements in safety standards.
The seriousness attached to safety issues is evidenced in the routine safety-sharing among the employees.
Evan Chongo, the corporate safety manager, says a number of risk management initiatives have been devised around KCM operations.
One programme worth noting, he says, is the Risk Accelerated Management Programme for Konkola (RAMP.K).
The programme has 15 elements which include planning, leadership, and environmental issues.
“When this programme was rolled out, it led us to seeing drastic reduction in injury-lost time,” said Mr Chongo, who also singled out the introduction of behaviour-based safety as being critical to the improved safety record at KCM.
He said the record of three fatalities last year made KCM introduce another safety campaign called ‘Chachililamo’, an intervention programme meant to tighten the company’s safety system.
With all these, the KCM safety record has improved with the frequency dropping from 0.66 per cent to 0.21 per cent.
KCM group safety manager-operations, Felix Sikaonga said for a period of 11 years, the company was at its peak in terms of safety.
Notwithstanding this achievement, KCM remains firmly rooted in achieving its goal of ‘Zero Harm’ journey.
“For 11 years before, KCM had a record of 150 injuries per year, but last year saw the company record 27 which we call injury-lost time,” says Mr Sikaonga.
Mr Sikaonga says this has come with the placing of many interventions and commitment of management to safety issues.
With such an approach, KCM, which is ranked OHSAS 1801 by the British Safety Council, will continue motivating its workers and other stakeholders who are eager to see a reduction in injuries and deaths in mining firms owing to accidents.