The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) said that South Africa’s mining industry was “considered the most dangerous to work in”.

This comes as the International Day for Occupational Health and Safety was marked on Thursday.

Fedusa General Secretary Dennis George said that “many cases of occupational accidents and related deaths” occurred in the mining industry.

Singling out the tragic incident at the Lily Mine in Mpumalanga where three miners have been trapped underground since February, George said: “It is important for government, business and organised labour to focus attention on participating actively in securing a safety and health culture in workplaces in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.”

George added: “It is therefore important to strengthen the existing culture of health and safety in the mining industry through promoting learning and building capacity to make the workplaces safer and healthier.”

He said Fedusa remained committed to promoting better working conditions for workers and to raising awareness about “the magnitude of the problem of occupational or work-related fatalities, diseases and injuries”.

George said the government needed to “enforce strict measures of compliance to the regulations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act”. He said ground and transportation accidents were “still major causes of fatalities, despite a gradual decrease over recent years”.

George called on all employers and social partners to play a role in building a safer, healthier working environment at all levels. He said they should implement a “preventive safety and health culture” in their workplaces through education, training and issuing safe work gear where needed, so employees could safely perform their work.

George also appealed to employees to comply with the health and safety regulations in their workplaces.