Sub-standard practices and their adverse impact on safety performance
remain a challenge in the South African gold mining industry. The purpose
of this study was to investigate the root causes of sub-standard practices
and the effect on safety performance in South African gold mines. The
focus of the study was on the underground production operations at a gold
mine in the Free State. The study consisted of three parts: a personal
investigation into the causes of sub-standard practices at the mine, a
comparison with the results of a cultural study performed at the West Wits
mines, and a behavioural survey.
The studies described in this article yielded similar results in terms of
the key drivers behind sub-standard practices. It was found that substandard
practices had a number of causes, and the origin lies within the
habits, attitude, and behaviour of employees. Current methods of
addressing sub-standard practices and improving safety performance were
found to discourage employees from performing work safely and according
It was concluded that the lack of critical behavioural habits for the
given work environment and job title could possibly be the primary reason
for the occurrence of sub-standard practices.
Paper written on project work carried out in partial fulfilment of B. Eng. (Mining Engineering).