Setting the safety benchmarks

The mine site is a dangerous place. Constantly moving heavy machinery, high pressured equipment, and toxic and hazardous chemicals are an every day part of the industry. 
And despite constant measures to increase safety on site, injuries still happen. 
So when a mining crew can go a year without a single injury it's an impressive feat. 
When the same crew goes six years without a single Lost Time Injury it's amazing.  
Boart Longyear's drilling crew at G-Resources' Martabe open cut gold mine in Indonesia has done exactly this, celebrating six years Lost Time Injury free in March this year. 
What makes it even more impressive is the fact that it was done in a country that is typically known for its lax adherence to safety laws, and in one of its more remote locations. 
The Martabe gold mine itself is located along the Trans-Sumatra fault, on the northwest coast of ­Sumatra in Indonesia, in a region that combines around four metres of rain annually with hills featuring 30 degree gradients that reach nearly a kilometre into the sky. 
Taufik Octaviano, Boart Longyear's environmental health and safety manager for Indonesia, explained that "there are a great number of potential risks every day at the Martabe site; a combination of high risk machinery, a hazardous environment, strong gusting winds and electrical storms creates hundreds of combinations of things that could go wrong – especially considering the challenges that already exist when moving rigs with a helicopter. 
"We take these conditions into consideration on a daily basis," Octaviano said. 
Boart Longyear's workers provide  a number of drilling services for the mine, carrying out diamond coring methods to produce high quality readable core samples, as well as geotechnical, and grade control drilling, as its the main tasks, all of which are supported by maintenance, training, logistics, OHS, and human resources teams. 
At the site they predominately use five LF70 heli-portable rigs, and were previously using an LF90C rig as well. 
So how exactly did a team that labours in such an inhospitable environment – compared to many Austra­lian operations – manage to work six years without a single Loss Time Injury? 
According to Octaviano the Boart Longyear Drilling Services (BLDS) team did it by making "safety part of everyday discussions, both formal and informal. 
"The BLDS team realises that no one is perfect, which allowed them to constantly look for ways to improve." 
He explained that in achieving this benchmark the first step in increasing safety measures for the drillers was ensuring that the equipment, procedures, and standards are all user-friendly. 
The easier the equipment is to use the less likely it is there will be a mistake.  
Octaviano also labelled teamwork a major factor 
"Everyone on site is encouraged to voice an opinion on safety, no matter how much experience they have, what their qualifications are, or where they rank in seniority." 
Feedback is sought out from the crew on any new items as well, which provides buy-in from the team and makes implementation of the new machinery or measures a much smoother process.  
On top of this is constant training. 
"Refresher training on critical areas is done every six months, with a concentrated effort on manual handling, housekeeping and helicopter operations (for its heli-portable drill rigs). 
"The crews have gained certification as helicopter landing officers (HLOs) and other various specialties through independent certified trainers," he added. 
Additionally "everyone on site is asked to be skilled in multiple tasks – the Martabe crew has a concentration on their main skills while being available to help out with secondary skills when needed. 
"For example all environmental health and safety (EHS) managers are trained to do helicopter rig shifts as HLOs. This promotes respect for others' tasks and increases co-operation between different departments on site." 
Regarding training, the team also gives all new people on site, whether they are first day or long term employees, a green hat (entry level) training before they are allowed to do any work. 
Physical copies of previous training certifications are also required and if not provided they simply retrain the worker. 
The site also employs experienced fly-in fly-out drilling supervisors, trainers, and EHS managers to oversee the day to day operations.  
Octaviano added that by partnering with outside companies for specialised training it has provided more experience for the crew, although the partners were forced to adapt the onsite training for helicopter related issues. 
Recruiting from the local community has also played a part in the safety goals. 
Of the 18 drillers currently working at the site, only four are FIFO with specailised training, while the rest are locals. 
A combination of all these factors has ensured that this operation reached an impressive milestone of now more than six years without a single Lost Time Injury.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.