FRANCISTOWN: Tati Nickel Mining Company (TNMC) general manager, Sebetlela Sebetlela, has called on mining companies to prevent accidents before they happen.
Welcoming guests at the Botswana Chamber of Mines annual Inter-Mine First Aid competitions held at TNMC recreational club on Saturday, Sebetlela said it is imperative for mining companies to focus on preventing accidents before they happen rather than applying first aid.
He stated that mining is a hazardous profession with many of its activities carrying some risk to life and limb. He said that despite all the efforts aimed at prevention, occasionally accidents occur that result in injuries.
"Accidents and injuries don't only happen at work and this makes first aid an important life skill for all people including children," he said.
Sebetlela said that while it is a good thing for people to be prepared for emergencies, it is better to adopt a safety focused lifestyle and attitude wherever. "Whether we are at home, road, at play, at the bar or at work. As they say, it is better to be safe than sorry."
Officiating at the event, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Phandu Skelemani, said one of the principal legal instruments regulating the mining industry in Botswana is the Mine Quarries, Works and Machinery Act of 1978. He said the Act provides for the safety, health and welfare of persons engaged in prospecting, mining and quarrying operations.
"This bestows a great deal of responsibility on the mining companies in this country to ensure that their activities are carried out under the safest possible conditions;
He stated that when the Act was first introduced, it was difficult for mining companies to comply with its provisions. He said it is commendable that a few mining companies that existed then started the annual competitions amongst themselves as early as 1980.
He noted that the objective of the competitions was to promote the application of first aid in the mining industry through sharing of knowledge and skills and the application of the first aid techniques to the general public and thereby improving the prospects of compliance with the Act.
"Today I am happy to say that most, if not all, the mining companies in Botswana are doing their best in catering for the health, safety and welfare of their employees, as well as the communities they are located." Skelemani said that the mining industry has started reaping the benefits from making first aid a sports-like activity, which includes making the practice more appealing to the general mine employees as they learn through having fun.
He said there is no doubt that the application of first aid techniques in most of the accidents in the mining industry has saved many lives over the years.
Meanwhile, this year's inter-mine competition was won by the BCL team followed by Morupule and Jwaneng mines.