The mining industry is reluctant to adapt to change, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Tuesday.
"Simple things, such as providing clothing to female workers, is a problem. The industry is used to providing a one-piece overall to male workers... female workers need a two-piece," general secretary Frans Baleni said at a mining lekgotla in Johannesburg.
Baleni said the industry had to adapt to changes and transform if was to be competitive.
"Cutting corners in skilling workers is working against being competitive."
Mining companies should ensure that workers were healthy.
"Health is important; it reduces the rate of absenteeism."
The remuneration of workers should take into consideration the risks to which they were exposed.
"It should reflect the danger they are exposed to every time they go underground, the high temperature they face and dusty environment they are exposed to."
The NUM is preparing to go on strike in the gold mines after wage negotiations deadlocked last week.
The union is demanding R7000 a month for surface workers and R8000 a month for underground workers.
Gold producers have offered a six percent increase.