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Environment|PROJECT|Risk Management|Safety|Screens|Technology|Underground|Operations
Environment|PROJECT|Risk Management|Safety|Screens|Technology|Underground|Operations
environment|project|risk-management|safety|screens|technology|underground|operations

De Beers’ innovative approach to safety ensures 10m fatality-free shifts at Venetia

De Beers Venetia senior manager for safety and sustainable development Gavin Anderson

De Beers Venetia senior manager for safety and sustainable development Gavin Anderson

15th February 2024

By: Marleny Arnoldi

Deputy Editor Online

     

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Diamond miner De Beers’ Venetia mine, near Musina, Limpopo, has reached 10.2-million fatality-free shifts, which safety manager Gavin Anderson deems remarkable given the mine’s transition from openpit to underground operations.

De Beers had to reskill the company’s openpit employees for underground operations, as well as coordinate any contractors on site to implement what had been the Venetia Underground Project.

Anderson explains that the vision of “pioneering a brilliant future for Venetia mine” required a bold and innovative approach to safety, including through a comprehensive risk management programme.

He adds that the company worked on giving employees a psychologically safe workplace in which to operate, not just an occupationally clean and safe environment.

Anderson elaborates that psychological safety is a concept that moves away from a focus on management and towards a new appreciation of leadership, where leaders demonstrate care for their employees and drive safe production.

Traditionally, a manager would pursue safety compliance through checking that certain standards and procedures were in place; a psychologically safe workplace, on the other hand, is where employees feel free to speak up when they believe a procedure or risk assessment is not adding the necessary value to their safety efforts.

This approach ensures more direct and collaborative engagement between employees and leaders. In this environment, more effective safety interventions can be applied, such as Venetia’s Safety Sentry, in which each team selects a sentry to capture and communicate the safety observations of his or her colleagues during a shift.

Using a tablet to record images, conversations or videos underground, the Safety Sentry is able to highlight areas where improvements can be made at the workface.

“Leveraging digital communication technology, this data is uploaded to a manager who can view, assess and take forward the observations or suggestions – both with the team and senior management,” Anderson points out.

Venetia also regularly reminds employees of their families’ love for and reliance on them, with personal messages being played on screens in the workplace.

He concludes that focusing on the human component has given Venetia mine the edge in terms of shifting safety practices.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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