My wife, Angelique, and I do tandem road racing as a means to keep fit and spend time together. However, for us to compete, we need to make sure that we can operate as a functional team. As it is difficult to communicate with one another when racing, it is important to know each other’s strengths, weaknesses and limits.

For 2016, the industry has thus far suffered 21 fatalities, of which 9 were fall-of-ground related (excluding the Lily Mine disaster). Ore extraction is reliant on face availability, skilled workers to deliver the planned production, and experts to ensure that production can be achieved safely and optimally. Our Rock Engineering departments fulfil many responsibilities, including design, implementation, coaching, monitoring, auditing and developing of new systems and strategies. In an ever-changing mining environment, we have to integrate all of these areas to prevent potential system failures at the mining face. This predominantly entails a policing function, through auditing compliance. However, rock “Engineering” is reliant on information from the face, albeit sometimes with resistance from a crew to install a support item to the required standard.

As with tandem racing, it is not just about the bike, it is more about how you operate the bike as part of a team to achieve the best results. In our role within a Rock Engineering department, we have to operate as a functional and integrated team. We need to remember that the weakest link in a chain is actually the strongest component, as it can break it.

Michael du Plessis