Safety and health

Building workplaces free of occupational illness

In the course of operating, employees are exposed to various health risks. We actively manage these risks in line with our commitment to make workplaces free of occupational illness.

If health impacts are not properly managed, there is a potential long-term burden on employers, employees, their families and communities and, more broadly, on society. This in turn can damage the image and reputation of the business.

OLD

The main forms of OLD are silicosis and pulmonary tuberculosis (TB).

Silicosis

While silicosis is a potential risk at underground operations, it has been eliminated at our operations in Brazil, as a result of reducing the cumulative exposure to dust through mechanisation, improved ventilation, dust suppression, personal preventative measures and statutory limitations on the length of service of employees in high risk occupations. Drawing on this experience where possible, we continue to work intensively to contain silicosis at underground operations in South Africa and in Ghana. In 2014, 201 new cases of compensable silicosis were diagnosed in South Africa and nine in Ghana. These cases result from exposure in previous years, bearing in mind the long lead time between exposure and diagnosis.

In November 2014, an industry working group was established by major current and former gold producers in South Africa, with the objective of bringing stakeholders together to implement a comprehensive and sustainable solution to occupational lung disease. Stakeholder groups who are being engaged through the initiative include other mining companies, organised labour, senior government officials, as well as legal representatives of claimants who have filed legal suits against the companies.

Litigation against AngloGold Ashanti is currently underway in South Africa; an update is available in our integrated report.

Pulmonary tuberculosis

The majority of occupational TB cases among employees occur in South Africa. The causes of the disease are complex, and one of the major challenges that we face is the fact that the combination of HIV infection and silica dust exposure has a multiplicative effect on the likelihood of developing TB. Notwithstanding progress made in HIV management, with incidence being reduced by more than half over the last decade, HIV incidence among employees remains high at just over 2%.

Incidence of TB at AngloGold Ashanti has decreased by some 60% since 2004 due to the interventions undertaken to date, but showed a marginal increase in 2014 compared to 2013, indicating a plateau in the progress made. The incidence of occupational TB at South African operations in 2014 was 1.57%, compared to a rate of 1.49% in 2013. The national average is estimated to be 1%.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a risk at all operations where noisy equipment is used. However, prevalence is highest at operations in South African and Continental Africa due to the type of equipment used in underground mining and exposure to noise within confined spaces.

Diesel particulate exposure has recently been identified as a potential health risk relevant to operations where heavy diesel machinery is used. Efforts to understand and mitigate this potential impact are underway.

How occupational health risks are managed

The approach to addressing occupational health risk issues differs somewhat from the management of safety issues as the impact of exposure to occupational health hazards is cumulative and cannot easily be measured over the short term. In the case of silicosis, lead times to diagnosis are also becoming longer due to operational interventions reducing exposure to silica dust. The average exposure times to diagnosis has increased to over 21 years currently, from approximately 15 years in the mid-1990s.

OLD

Silocosis

OLD is managed primarily by reducing the level of exposure of employees to silica-bearing dust. This is achieved through a combination of administrative and engineering controls, including improvements to personal protective equipment, the continuing implementation of multi-stage filtration systems at ore transfer points, and footwall treatment.

The progressive introduction of improved controls has led to the reduction of exposure to silica-bearing dust among South African employees, where the majority of silicosis cases occur. The graph below shows the percentage of samples representing South African employee exposure greater than 0.1mg/m³ silica dust. South African industry milestones agreed between government, business and organised labour in 2003 stipulate that 95% of samples should reflect below 0.1mg/m³ by 2013. This level was achieved by AngloGold Ashanti in 2008 and the business is now operating with 1.31% of samples above the occupational exposure limit. Industry targets in South Africa have subsequently been revised, as described below.

The figure for 2012 was incorrectly recorded as 0.94% in the 2013 report. The correct value is 0.92%

We continue to target further improvements to meet our goal of operating without occupational illness.

Occupational Tuberculosis (TB)

TB screening and treatment programmes are in place at all operations at risk, particularly in South Africa, to facilitate early detection and effective disease management.

Initiatives have been both multi-faceted and integrated to address the wide range of underlying contributing factors to the disease. Measures taken include comprehensive and integrated healthcare programmes including:

  • Effective screening, diagnosis and treatment with X-ray surveillance;
  • HIV/AIDS management;
  • Dust suppression programmes;
  • Housing and accommodation strategies focusing on private rooms;
  • Reduced dependency on migrant labour; and
  • Increased collaboration with the Department of Health in mining areas in South Africa to address this disease more effectively and in partnership with national and local government.

HIV/AIDS

HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) continues, although after ten years of such programmes, many employees know their status and we are seeing a reduction in the rate of employees presenting themselves for testing. Some 16,000 HIV tests were conducted in the South African region in 2014, and, assuming single annual testing, this represents approximately 60% of the workforce.

The uptake of HIV wellness clinic services and anti-retroviral therapy (ART) in South Africa has however increased steadily over the same period, with 4,648 employees attending the clinics, 3,317 of whom are now receiving ART.

Noise Induced hearing Loss (NIHL)

NIHL is prevented by the silencing of equipment and by the use of hearing protection by employees, as well as through administrative controls such as limiting the amount of time employees spend exposed to noise. We are continuing the roll out of personalised hearing protection which offers greater protection and comfort. Further engagement with the suppliers of equipment has also been undertaken with the aim of reducing equipment noise further.

The total number of cases of NIHL recorded across the group in 2014 was 182. NIHL shows a declining trend in South Africa, with the number of cases decreasing from 38 in 2013 to 30 in 2014. The total number of cases reported in the Continental Africa region was 152. Most of these (140cases) occurred at Obuasi in Ghana, but a small number were also reported in Tanzania (ten cases) and Mali (two cases). The large number of cases in Ghana was driven by the large-scale employee exit processes at Obuasi which took place during the second half of 2014.

Target

Our target is to operate with no occupational disease.

It is challenging to establish interim milestones in pursuit of this target due to the nature of occupational illness, in particular the long lead time prior to diagnosis of occupational disease.

In South Africa, we work to industry milestones which are agreed in a joint process with industry, government and organised labour.

These targets were revised at a summit held in November 2014 and we intend to include them in future reporting. An important outcome from the summit was the recognition that organisational factors, including the existence of a robust health and safety culture, have an increasingly significant impact on health and safety outcomes and performance.

Key performance indicators
New cases of silicosis

5 yr stacked bar chart(data from SA and Ghana only show by country and enable reader to see total or breakdown)

New cases of NIHL

5 yr stacked bar chart (show by country only for countries where there have been cases and enable reader to see total or breakdown

 
New cases of occupational TB

5 yr stacked bar chart (data from SA only – no need to show by operation, country is adequate

AODFR (per million man hours)

2 yr stacked bar chart

Safety performance Community health