On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. vol.111 n.5 Johannesburg May. 2011
Meeting the milestones: Are South African small- to medium-scale mines up to the task?
J.J. DekkerI; A.L. EdwardsI; R.M. FranzI; T. van DykI; A. BanyiniI, II
ICouncil for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa, Centre for Mining Innovation
IIMine Health and Safety Council
Controlling noise has proven difficult in mining, and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) remains common. In 2008, a South African Mine Health and Safety Council study focused on small- to mediumsized mines in relation to the milestones set by the industry to prevent NIHL. An evaluation of the compliance of ten diamond, sand, aggregate and Readymix concrete mines and production sites with standards, legislation and best practice guidelines relating to NIHL prevention was conducted, using a noise compliance audit tool.
The findings indicated that all mines surveyed had poor compliance with the international standards, compliance with International Standards Organization standards being the poorest. There was a clear distinction between the small and the mediumsized mines in their compliance with local standards and legislation (ranging from 14 per cent to 66 per cent). The areas of best compliance were audiology and medical examinations.
The lower-than-expected compliance was largely attributable to shortcomings in hearing conservation programmes for occupational noise. Initiation of remedial practices in the small- to medium-scale mining sector to facilitate improvements in NIHL prevention and compliance with standards and legislation is recommended.
Keywords: Hearing conservation, small-to-medium mines
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