Health and safety training is vital in all industries, but in particularly risky sectors such as mining, its significance is even greater. Each year, workers around the world lose their lives as a result of mining accidents, while many others are injured.

One recent case brings sharply into focus the importance of health and safety in South Africa. According to a report on Creamer Media's Mining Weekly, an employee at bullion producer Harmony Gold lost his life following a mud rush at Doornkop mine, which is located around 30 kilometres west of Johannesburg.

The mine is a single-shaft operation and it reaches a depth of just under 2 000 metres. The firm mines the Kimberley and South Reefs using a combination of both bord-and-pillar and narrow-reef conventional mining techniques.

Harmony revealed that investigations were underway and its chief executive officer Graham Briggs expressed condolences to the deceased's family.

Meanwhile, the firm did not state whether or not the Department of Mineral Resources had temporarily shut the mine, which is the usual process following mining deaths.

According to the Mining Weekly article, South Africa's mining industry is "notorious as one of the most dangerous in the world". However, the news source added: "Increased pressure from government and labour unions and heightened efforts by mine owners have managed to improve the industry's record, with nearly one-quarter fewer deaths in 2010, at 128, compared with the prior year's 168."

It added that the official statistics from 2011 are not yet available.

Thankfully, there are superb health and safety training opportunities in the country these days and this should help to boost standards not only in mining, but in all other areas of industry. Like in many other countries round the world, health and safety in South Africa is getting considerably better as time passes.

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