Cutting risk: Dr Wynand van Dyk presented a recent lecture on safety in South African mines.
South Africa has a tainted record when it comes to mining fatalities. In 2008 alone, 168 miners lost their lives.
"The numbers are decreasing - there was a 29% improvement from 2007 to 2008 - but more can be done to ensure the safety of our miners," said Dr Wynand van Dyk in a recent lecture to staff and students of the Department of Chemical Engineering.
Van Dyk's lecture formed part of the Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment's safety week at the end of July. A chemical engineer who now runs a consulting firm, Van Dyk also heads a UCT programme that trains Anglo American employees in safety management.
The course is based on the Safety Risk Management Process programme adopted by Anglo American worldwide, and aims to establish and embed a world-class safety risk-management process that delivers radical improvement in safety for all its employees. It is run in Australia, Chile, Brazil, the US, Canada, England and, of course, South Africa, where it's presented by UCT, the University of the Witwatersrand, and the University of Pretoria.
To date, UCT has delivered 16 courses, with another six planned for 2009 alone.
In his talk, Van Dyk stressed the role engineers can play in mining safety.
"We design, maintain and operate processes that harness energies to do work," he said. "We therefore need to understand the energies and put effective controls in place to prevent the unwanted release of energies."
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