Johannesburg - Companies need to allow employees to take ownership of their safety, a mining conference heard on Monday.
"You have to create an environment where personal ownership of safety becomes part of how you run your business... and how people behave," said Anglo American group occupational medicine specialist Charles Mbekeni.
Because mining companies could not dictate how employees behaved outside the workplace, the best way to prevent injuries was to encourage them to volunteer information, he told the Mine Safety Africa 2012 conference in Kempton Park.
Those who came to work drunk, tired, or ill, posed a danger to themselves and their colleagues.
"It's a journey, and part of that journey is culture transformation. You cannot have that kind of proactive approach if you have a punitive approach which punishes people."
Mbekeni said employers also had to review their rosters to see if they were not contributing to fatigue, as this could lead to injuries and death in the mines.
"The environment itself has to change and be caring enough to allow an employee to be empowered... [to] observe both his condition and that of his colleagues," he said.