Following its current record of 702 lost-time-injury- (LTI-) free days, its previous best being 554 days, Rand Refinery’s Germiston-based gold refinery and smelter operations intend to exceed 1 000 LTI-free days. The company’s current record equates to 2.3-million LTE-free man-hours.
During 2016, Rand Refinery introduced a programme it developed internally and facilitated in-house called Belief-in-Safety (BIS). The programme was tailor-made by Rand Refinery for its unique operational areas. The programme saw all employees from operational and non-operational areas sharing experiences, concerns, learnings and understanding about health and safety issues in moderated sessions. This was to capture the prevalent culture at the time.
The first phase focused on introducing initiatives to improve the health and safety culture and allowing employees to formulate pacts in which team members would hold each other accountable. The second phase of the BIS will check if the culture of safety has been ingrained in their behaviours – both in the workplace and at home.
The programme is based on an idea that “no one should sustain an injury as a result of operations” and all employees, contractors and visitors are encouraged to report any issue or situations that could potentially be hazardous to self or the environment.
Rand Refinery CE Praveen Baijnath says, “The pursuit of LTI-free days reaffirms our continued focus and commitment to uphold the highest safety, health and environmental standards across our business. The safety of our employees, contractors and visitors remains central to our operations.”
“Our commitment is reflected in the smelter recording ten years of LTI-free days and the smelter having recorded 12 months of total injury free days (no first aid cases). The Refinery and Fabrication division recorded 15 months LTI-free days and also ten months of total injury free cases. This is testament to our rigorous safety processes and training programmes, and our employees’ commitment to always putting safety first.”
Rand Refinery views safety as a collective responsibility (Us + Them = We) and employees are encouraged through programmes to be responsible for their own safety and the safety of others. The refinery’s outstanding record was achieved under the watchful guidance of the CE’s office and stellar effort from the team.
The first phase of the BIS, which ran between March and November 2016, saw a number of health and safety issues identified and addressed and also resulted in the establishment of several subcommittees that provided inputs to verify and validate safety, health and environment (SHE) compliance and test SHE culture.
Every employee became part of the programme and it has since been dedicated to always making safety a priority and participating in initiatives to ensure Rand Refinery’s operations stay incident-free, says Rand Refinery technical assurance and safety health environmental and quality (SHEQ) executive head Terance Nkosi.
As a result of the programme, the company has seen a decrease in the number of LTI’s recorded, with a LTI frequency rate of 0, and seen key areas that have operated for a number of months without sustaining any medical treatable injures or first aid cases, as result of strict compliance. The mobile equipment damage rates were also reduced, including a reduction in maintenance costs. The number-of-incidents reporting mechanism transformed from lagging into a leading approach – which improved proactiveness.
The second phase of the BIS will test the extent of the culture and maturity among employees in terms of health and safety, based on the principles they have adopted and learned. It will also test whether the SHEQ lifestyle permeates through the organisation or not. The session will also test whether or not leadership leads by example, setting the tone for the organisation.
Nkosi says the second phase will also be implemented and facilitated in-house between February and May 2019 with the help of human resource’s organisational development team.
Rand Refinery wants to hold itself accountable by checking on the progress it has made in terms of its safety culture. This will include referencing previous practices established between 2016 and 2018 and assessing whether these inform the current culture that is practised.
Nkosi mentions that the company test its employees not only on the mindfulness of their safety culture but also on the attitude that employees have towards safety during working hours and after working hours. He hopes that this is forming improved behaviours and that people are safety conscious of what could go wrong in their surroundings thereby helping in transforming towards a culture of safety – stretching top behaviour at home and on the roads.
“Our primary goal is to minimise absence from work from preventable causes. We extend this to behaviours on the road and our aspiration is that none of our employees are caught speeding, driving under the influence, texting, disobeying road signs or not wearing proper personal protective equipment while working at home.”
This will be testament that what has been practised during office hours, has transformed the culture after hours because it is all about behaviour towards safety.
Furthermore, the second phase will inevitably contribute to improving investigations turnaround time. “Instead of investigating incidents within 14 days as policies and procedures dictate, imagine giving a five-day turnaround depending on availability and information,” Nkosi concludes.