While our safety record has shown strong improvement in recent years, we recognise that the margin of error for people working in mines and processing plants is razor thin. This pushes us to continually look for areas of improvement.
After reviewing the accident history over the past five years at our Cuiabá mine in Brazil, we decided to develop what has been called the Safe Production Programme, which aims to maintain a zero fatalities rate while achieving a further reduction in injury rates.
The three-year project was launched in November 2018 and is being carried out in partnership with US-based consultancy DuPont, a world leader in safety practices. The first step in the programme was the creation of a framework to identify improvement opportunities in the execution and application of the operational risk management model related to occupational health and safety.
A corrective action plan was drawn up using data collected through surveys, interviews and field evaluations, and was aligned with our operational excellence programme.
The implementation was divided into three phases, the first of which was completed in 2019. This phase was called “the contention plan” and addressed seven critical risks. It was dedicated to ensuring the action plan was applied together with the operation’s controls, with the aim of achieving zero fatalities.
The second and third phases will be implemented during 2020 and 2021. The second phase, “transformation areas”, is a series of culture-related actions focused on improving mining and infrastructure management. The third phase, “project enablers and sustainers”, will focus on cascading the actions implemented in the transformation areas phase to other areas of Cuiabá.
As a result of the project’s developments in 2019, the operation’s all injury frequency rate decreased by 15% compared to the previous year. An important breakthrough in visible leadership at the operations was also observed. The participation in the safe behavioural observation programme increased by almost 100%.
Through the programme the leadership also engaged in what has been called lead risk governance with their teams. This element identified 300 potential high-risk occurrences, and measures that were taken to address these. As a result of this action, the adherence to high-risk controls rose from 78% to 84%.
“Leading the mining team in the Safe Operation Programme has been a great experience,” says Rodrigo Fideles, Cuiabá Operations Senior Mining Manager. “The team’s engagement showed its constant commitment to maintaining a safe workplace. As project team leader, my aim is to ensure the team is committed to work safely and that employees follow standardised processes to ensure safe operations.”