Mining operations presents health and safety risks, particularly for those working in underground mines. Protecting the health and safety of our workforce is a key commitment. Our primary objective is to achieve Zero Harm.
Zero Harm means we are redoubling our safety efforts. Preventing fatal accidents is our highest priority, and the safety of our people will remain our core focus until we achieve a zero-incident rate. Every incident is subject to an in-depth investigation and analysis, so that we understand the causes and can prevent a recurrence.
There was a 48% improvement in the lost-time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) in 2010-2016 (1.43 in 2016 compared with 2.74 in 2010) across the Сompany, as broad-ranging safety initiatives made a positive impact on the majority of Nordgold's operational activities. We deeply regret to report that there were two fatalities in 2016 within the group (at the Irokinda and Zun-Holba mines). However, this is a reduction on four fatalities in the previous year.
Our target is to reduce LTIFR to 1.21 in 2017, while Zero fatalities remains our highest priority.
LTIFR is the number of incidents per million hours worked
1.43 LTIFR in 2016
Ensuring Health and Safety
Our Health and Safety Policy is based on the following principles:
- Employee safety is our top priority
- Preventing incidents and injuries benefits everyone
- Every worker is responsible for observing safety rules
- Our management is directly responsible for preventing incidents and injuries
- Health and safety targets must be clear to all employees
- No work can be undertaken if safety could be compromised
Nordgold’s 'More than Gold’ Safety Rules were developed in 2012 with the aim of reducing the number of fatalities and significantly improving operational safety at our mines. A review of the Rules in 2014 was initiated in order to drive further step-change in safety performance, especially at Nordgold’s underground mines. The Company continues to pursue the integration of safety methodologies and the sharing of best practices between its mines, as well as directly investing in the safety of its employees through regular audits, trainings and control. Another objective of the review was to align the Safety Rules with Nordgold’s Values. Nordgold ‘More than Gold’ Safety Rules was introduced as a condition of employment and must be followed at all times.
The ‘More than Gold’ Safety Rules continue to apply to everybody: employees, contractors, service suppliers and visitors. If compliance with the ‘More than Gold’ Safety Rules is not possible for any reason and at any time, everybody is required to stop performing the task in hand and to immediately inform their supervisors or management.
Managing health and safety
The Company observes local legislation requirements in all of its operating regions, as well as best practice in the broader field of health and safety (H&S). Our H&S management system is also part of our overall Nordgold Business System (BSN). A number of internal policies, such as the Health and Safety Policy, the More Than Gold Safety Rules, OHSAS 18001:2007, standards, methodologies, and safety procedures provide the basis of our H&S management system.
We have established an extensive health, safety, and risk-management system, in order to:
Understand the risks
Implement risk mitigation processes and technologies
Learn from incidents
Encourage appropriate behaviour
In 2016, we implemented 16 new internal health and safety standards in accordance with OHSAS 18001 across our mines. The Company will be focused on implementation of ISO 45001 standards in 2017. We also implemented a provision system on accidents monitoring and new internal labour safety testing programmes during 2016.
2015 saw intensive efforts being made to develop a system of leading indicators aimed at the proactive detection of both inconsistencies and potential incidents which did not result in an accident. Safety risk assessments, root cause analysis processes, new safety audit standards and a number of methodologies were implemented at all mines.
In 2014, we implemented training frameworks and initiatives to promote improved safety performance among workers. Managers at our operations also strengthen our safety culture through regular safety visits, to observe employees at work, and discuss operational and safety issues with them. We have put in place behavioral-based safety programs to improve hazard identification and risk awareness, and encourage employees to take personal responsibility for managing these risks.
In January 2013, we have successfully completed the construction of Bissa, our ninth mine, on budget and ahead of schedule. The mine was built and runs in accordance with the most advanced engineering and safety standards.
In 2012, we have started the implementation of the new Business System of Nordgold which introduces a new holistic approach to safety and efficiency at all operations of Nordgold. The new Business System focuses on constant improvement of safety and all business processes, as well as the exchange of experience and best practices between Nordgold’s mines.
We care about health of our employees, providing them with health insurance. In 2015, 3,561 health insurance policies were provided for employees in Russia and Kazakhstan, with total medical insurance costs of US$865,552. Employees on African mines do not have health insurance due to the absence of such institutions in the regions.
Malaria and a wide range of infectious diseases pose additional health risks to our employees in Burkina Faso and Guinea. We have comprehensive malaria control programmes at our sites in these countries.
In 2014-2015, Lefa mine operated with extensive precautionary measures in place since the outbreak of Ebola in Guinea. Measures included, but were not limited to community and employee education campaigns, and employee screening when entering the site to ensure we remain vigilant to the risks. In December 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an end of the Ebola virus epidemic in Guinea. Thankfully, no cases of disease among employees or the inhabitants of nearby villages were reported.