Six South African gold mining companies have set aside R5 billion in compensation funds as part of a class action brought against them by over half a million workers affected with Silicosis or TB.

The out of court settlement, which is likely to be concluded later this year, is a stark reminder of the consequences a lack of cleanliness can have on the health and safety of workers on site.

“In light of the dangers airborne particles pose to construction and mine workers it is essential for Health and Safety representatives to consult with cleaning industry experts to ensure they are adequately managing this risk,” says Emma Corder, Country Manager of Nilfisk South Africa – a leading supplier of professional cleaning products and service.

“Dry sweeping, for example, can generate more dust and compound the issue whereas industrial vacuums and pressure washers can effectively reduce and remove harmful particles.”

According to Corder, dust is not the only hazard that can be mitigated through the use of effective cleaning processes. Slips, trips and falls make up a huge portion of industrial accidents. These incidents can often be attributed to oily floors or construction debris.

In South Africa, the chemical, iron and steel, construction and health sectors are cited as industries that are highly vulnerable to these occurrences.

“The truth of the matter is that these statistics can be reduced. A clean and orderly work site is directly linked to the health and safety of workers. In essence, a cleaner site results in greater safety and fewer costs,” concludes Corder.