Mining companies should involve workers on the ground in order to make mines safe, said Johann Lewis, Xstrata group safety manager on Wednesday.
"If we want to be successful we have to involve our people. We can't tell them what to do. We've got to involve them.
"They are the guys who are executing the tasks daily. They know what the risks are, better than we think they do," he said.
According to the Chamber of Mines SA, as at August 1 this year 69 people had died in South African mines -- just three percent less than in the same period last year.
In 2011, a total of 123 people died in mines across the country.
Lewis said: "Once we involve the workers, we've got to empower them... We have to be careful that we create an environment where people can stand up and say 'if it is unsafe here I'll stop this job'."
Lewis was speaking on the sidelines of the Mine Safety 2012 conference hosted by the SA Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, in Ekurhuleni.