Good practice in health and safety

IN this editorial International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) President Paul Mitchell discusses health and safety.

IN this editorial International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) President Paul Mitchell discusses a health and safety theme and with it a reminder of just how important this area is to ICMM members and the wider industry.

As Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll notes in her article, her goal – and we believe the goal of all ICMM companies – is a zero harm mindset.

That means taking all necessary steps to avoid injuries and, worse still, fatalities – even if it may mean closing down a facility.

The health and safety theme, particularly as it relates to ICMM’s work, is about achieving transparency and implementing leading practices internationally. This is certainly the message from Scott Baker of the International Copper Association in his article on metals health risk assessment where he highlights a co-ordinated approach based on the best available science.

The more we can share the best scientific knowledge in health risk assessment, the better placed we are to meet societal challenges in an informed way.

The theme of sharing knowledge and of working together to improve health and safety standards is taken up throughout this issue.

For Gold Fields it has meant acknowledging the tragic loss of life, and stating their ongoing commitment to making fatal accidents a thing of the past.

Like Anglo American, Gold Fields regards any safety incident as unacceptable.

Developing a common approach to disease management is taken up by Rio Tinto’s Dr Richard Gaunt in his article on disease management.

After outlining the sector’s exposure to diseases like HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, Richard stresses the importance of community education as a practical means of reaching out to employees and their families.

He also writes about the ICMM Good Practice Guidance publication which is currently being developed and which will support managers in their efforts to achieve more effective health interventions and disease management.

By pooling ideas and sharing good practice in this way we can make further progress in managing and preventing some of these devastating diseases.

Finally, our case study takes us to BHP Billiton’s Nickel West in Australia and a program known as layered health and safety auditing.

Once again we are talking about the sharing of knowledge and responsibility, this time between different layers of management who have been successfully working together to bring about a significant improvement in safety performance at this company.

In fact, the case study highlights not only a dramatic improvement in injury performance across Nickel West’s operations, but also shared learnings and better co-operation between BHP Billiton facilities.


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