Mines told to prioritise safety

DEPUTY Minister of Foreign Affairs Rayford Mbulu has urged mining houses to prioritise issues of safety in their operations.
Mr Mbulu was speaking yesterday at Chambishi cemetery when he led hundreds of mourners in putting to rest two Zambian miners that died in an underground mine explosion at Non-Ferrous Africa Mining’s (NFCA) South East Ore Body (SEOB) in Chambishi last Thursday.
He said mining firms should safeguard lives by ensuring that miners work in a safe environment.
“This mine accident is regrettable. These people who are buried here lost their lives in that accident. Let’s ensure that we create a favourable environment for our miners to work in,” he said.
Three miners, one of them a Chinese national, working for Tongguan Mine Construction, died in an underground mine accident at SEOB after an explosion.
Juma Chibuye, 38, Joseph Mumba,53, and Chen Weibin,53,  were sinking a ventilation shaft at 680-metre  level when the explosion happened.
Mr Mbulu also urged management at Tongguan to compensate the bereaved families by employing one person from each of the affected families.
And Tongguan administrative manager Wang Xianfei said the company regrets the mine accident.
“We are really saddened by the death of the three miners and we deeply regret the incident,” Mr Wang said.
And Minister of Labour and Social Security Services Fackson Shamenda has urged employers to sufficiently invest in the health of employees and focus on a consistent process for attaining safety and health goals, ALVIN CHIINGA reports in Lusaka.
Mr Shamenda has also advised trade unions, especially those with representation in the mines, not to involve themselves in politics but rather help sort out the challenges the miners are facing.
Speaking at a Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) sensitisation workshop facilitated by the International Labour Organisation, he said it is saddening that most employers have focused more on making profit at the expense of safety.
“Occupational health and safety [are] a good investment, hence Government will not allow exploitation of workers through employers’ negligence on investing on their workers,” Mr Shamenda said.
Mr Shamenda said it is Government’s wish to ensure that every worker performs his or her work in conditions which are free from occupational accidents and diseases because only a safe and healthy worker can be productive.
He said the enactment of labour laws and the establishment of occupational health safety institutions have made the workplace safety and health issues a national priority.
Mr Shamenda said investing in prevention of fatalities at the workplace by the employers is cardinal, adding that those that will be found wanting will be dealt with.

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