A constructive analysis of safety control mechanisms and production costs at a coal mine

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Mokoena, Mothemba Cecilia
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Statistics in South Africa show that the fatality and injury rates within the mining industry have dropped since the end of the apartheid era. Regardless of the drop the fact remains that the mine workers, who are often the breadwinners, are still dying in the country’s mines leaving their families behind without any source of income. If they do not die they may suffer crippling injuries due to mine accidents making it impossible for them to perform their daily duties at work which results in the loss of income, loss of quality of life and this produces a humanitarian and a socio-economic problem. Mining companies incur enormous costs due to fatalities and injuries. Hence a target for zero fatalities was set in the mining industry for 2013. However, the industry has failed to reach this target that it set for itself and it is therefore of the utmost importance to encourage mining companies to invest more than they do currently in safety in order to prevent these fatal and crippling injuries due to mine accidents. The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not the requirements of safety legislation are observed and complied with by a single Colliery in South Africa that was selected for this study. The study also sought to investigate whether or not the employees of this mine observe the safety regulations to ensure safety and to maintain an accident free working environment. An analysis of organizational safety control mechanisms and production cost was conducted through the use of a structured questionnaire, completed by 151 participants. Descriptive statistics, frequency tables, exploratory factor analysis (EFA), one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and t-test were utilized to analyse the data. The results indicate that the Colliery was compliant with the safety legislations, a positive employee safety attitude had been cultivated and there was provision of adequate safety facilities through safety investments. Cost reduction due to the application of safety controls was also established, yet it was found necessary for the Colliery to enforce and encourage the application of safety measures to reduce the costs that are still incurred as it is evident that the application of safety controls results in reduced costs. Although the Colliery was considered compliant, with its employees showing a positive attitude towards safety controls, and with safety investments made and cost reduction achieved due to safety measures, ANOVA revealed different perceptions based on the departments in which the employees work, years of experience, English proficiency and qualifications. However, no differences were found in relation to gender and designation.
M. Tech. (Cost and Management Accounting, Faculty of Management Sciences), Vaal University of Technology
Mining industry, Mine safety, Safety legislation, Coal mines