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Zimbabwe: Govt. urged to enforce safety regulations in the wake of rise in mining-related occupation hazards

“Expedite investment in the occupational health and safety of miners” 2 April 2019

…“My children are dying of hunger and I couldn’t fend for them as I’m sick. I contracted tuberculosis (TB) while working for a local mining company for which I worked from 1965, until 2002.  When I was tested and diagnosed with TB they retrenched me,” a teary Themba Tshuma (66) said in an interview. “They sent me home without compensation for a disease I got working in their mine. When they retrenched me I could not eat and was vomiting blood.  “It took doctors two weeks to stop the vomiting. They said the TB had worsened because I should have started treatment a long time ago. I am now struggling to look after my wife and children, as no one wanted to hire me because of my illness.  I used most of my retrenchment package to pay the doctors,’’ added Tshuma.

Cases like Tshuma’s are not uncommon. Diseases such as TB and silicosis are prevalent in mines, where miners are exposed to various potentially toxic or harmful materials or agents. Silicosis is a lung disease that is incurable. It is caused by inhaling silica dust from gold-bearing rocks over a prolonged period. It causes shortness of breath, coughing, fever and chest pains. TB is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. Like silicosis it also affects the lungs but can affect other parts of the body as well. The disturbing scene at Tshuma’s shack is a graphic representation of mining as an occupation fraught with many dangers and liable to diseases. By its hazardous nature, it then requires strict adherence to safety regulations and procedures in order to ensure the safety of those engaged in it.

…Each year there are 2, 3 million work-related deaths. On average, five percent of the workforce is absent from work every day. Fires, explosions and flooding have been some of the most destructive and dangerous hazards in the mining industry. Due to many inherent risks in mining, it is important for due attention to be given to emergency preparedness and responses to emergencies that may occur. Research also suggests that while fatalities in the mining sector have declined substantially over the past several decades, deaths related to occupational illness have no… First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa recently called on Government to enforce stiff laws and penalties on miners who continue operations when they have been advised to stop for safety reasons… “There is also need to invest in health and safety at mining workplaces. We need a more hands-on approach to ensure safety in the mines and follow ups on how our mines are operating to avoid disasters,” she said.