Spotlight on the Zero Harm initiative in South Africa

Serious injuries and fatalities remain a problem for open pit mining companies. South Africa, home to several major mining operations, saw more than 11,000 fatalities from 1984 to 2005. Since then, the mineral-rich country has made safety for mineworkers a top priority with the Zero Harm initiative.

Overview of the Zero Harm initiative

South Africa has long been plagued by a high number of mine-related fatalities and serious injuries. However, the situation has improved with the Minerals Council South Africa board’s Zero Harm commitment. The initiative is led by the CEO Zero Harm Forum. Its goal is to eliminate mineworker fatalities in the country. Its measures include a strong focus on health and safety training. Along with efforts by the Mine Health and Safety Council (MHSC) and other entities, the Zero Harm initiative has succeeded in reducing fatalities by 88% since 1993. Occupational health-related deaths have also been reduced.

Zero Harm’s revised strategy, Khumbul’ekhaya, encourages leaders in industry to examine each incident to find the root causes and apply improved safety measures.

Setbacks in mining safety

As successful as the Zero Harm initiative has been, it hasn’t been enough to eliminate fatalities. In fact, 2017 saw the first increase in fatalities in a decade. This convinced the Minerals Council to take a closer look at the major causes of accidents, and to roll out a revised strategy, called Khumbul’ekhaya, a Nguni word meaning “remember home.” This revised strategy reaffirms the industry’s commitment to Zero Harm and encourages industry leaders to learn from each incident and from incidents in other, relevant industries to better apply informed safety measures.

Hexagon Mining supports mines in their journey toward creating safer, collision-free worksites. The HxGN MineProtect Collision Avoidance System (CAS) is state-of-the-art technology that can be seamlessly integrated into mining vehicles for superior proximity detection and collision avoidance.  To learn more about Hexagon’s safety solutions, visit

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