Relentless focus on safety at AECI Mining’s operations has morphed into an enduring safety culture where safety is no longer a chore, but a way of life. Its Explosives division has reported staggering results for January to December 2019. It achieved the lowest TRIR in the Company’s 124-year history.
As an integral part of its Zero Harm aspiration, safety is at the centre of every activity at AECI Mining Explosives. Testimony to this is its continuous and consistent improvement in safety performance over the last 10 years culminating into the recent safety record. The explosives manufacturer achieved a Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) of 0,10 for 2019 across all its African and International businesses.
Explaining some of the key enablers for this historic achievement, Christo Peltz, safety and risk manager at AECI Mining Explosives, says AECI in recent years embarked on a safety programme with the ultimate goal of achieving Zero Harm across its operations. “We aspire to operate sustainably, without harm to people, the environment and the communities in which we operate,” he says.
Central to the company’s strong safety regime is employee buy-in, with everyone playing their part in ensuring that all the guidelines for health and safety are followed. “The rollout of the Zero Harm strategy at AECI Mining Explosives and the subsequent implementation of a series of formalised Life Saving Behaviours have refocused the labour force to look at safety as a principal parameter in their day-to-day operations, while being clearly aware of their role in keeping themselves safe,” says Peltz.
A formal process of contractor safety management was also implemented, where contracting company owners were engaged to impart a strict safety culture in their businesses. “As a result,” he says “our contractor injuries reduced and for the first time ever, with our Nitrates complex managing a major maintenance shutdown with no injuries.”
The historic safety achievement, Peltz says, has been a collective effort, with all parties, including the safety management team, the labour force and contractors playing their part. “This, however, could not be achieved without the financial and moral support from our executive,” he adds.
Peltz says their safety performance is at the leading edge with both the explosives manufacturing and end user markets, which have always been on the forefront of strict safety compliance due to the untenable consequences of getting it wrong in the first place. As a result, Peltz says, the explosives industry has generally exhibited very good safety indicator rates.
“This is a remarkable performance by any standard, especially considering that the daily personnel exposures include working in high-risk areas such as opencast and underground mining environments. This is testimony to the greater focus of our people on safety,” says Peltz.
To keep the standards high, Peltz says as part of the journey to Zero Harm, the company has developed a SHEQ framework which maps the process of improving safety processes and procedures from compliant to proactive and ultimately into resilient practices.
“This framework will be actively promoted to all areas of our business in an effort to maintain continuous improvement. We have to believe that Zero Harm is attainable. Last year we managed to operate injury-free for six months of the year, proving that Zero Harm is possible. In future, we need to work towards extending these periods,” he says.
In conclusion, Peltz says the safety culture in an organisation has to be set holistically from the executive down to the subsequent levels. “For this culture to exist, we need financial backing, strong leadership and behavioural support. If the executive does not live safety as a personal value, the company will not be able to move safety from compliant to resilient,” he concludes.