Safety and health

Improving safety performance

Efforts to improve safety performance in 2014 were directed at deepening our understanding of how risks materilise at our operations and of the pathways – or sequences of events – which result in safety incidents. The detailed nature of the work undertaken in this area has enabled us to better understand what controls are necessary to manage major hazards more effectively and helped us to put these controls in place across our operations.

Whilst work to improve safety performance remains a priority globally, an intense effort was made during 2014 to address known risks and hazards at our South African operations which operate ultra-deep level mines. Data on safety incidents shows that we have consistently experienced a higher frequency of incidents at operations in South Africa than at other operations globally, and that the greatest safety risk areas in South Africa are fall of ground incidents and vertical and horizontal transport.

Our actions to improve safety performance

While we have been successful in reducing minor incidents in the past, our analysis of historical safety performance showed us that there was no correlation between the rates of occurrence of major organisational incidents and minor incidents. This indicates that a single approach to safety management would be insufficient to address both categories of accidents. Therefore, a new approach was required to reduce the potential for major organisational incidents.

Using bow-tie analysis (BTA) to improve safety performance

BTA has been used by the oil and gas industry for a number of years and is a simple and effective tool for communicating risk assessment results to employees at all levels. This highly visual approach shows the links between the potential causes, preventative and mitigating controls and consequences of a major accident. Once complete, a BTA risk model reveals vulnerabilities and highlights the importance of having multiple layers of controls, including higher order controls such as engineered controls, and of routinely monitoring control effectiveness.

AngloGold Ashanti operations globally monitor, on aggregate, over 100,000 critical controls monthly. Some of these controls are administrative or procedural in nature whereas others require engineering measures to be taken, such as placing nets and bolts in working areas or replacing manual techniques with mechanised underground development.

For each critical control, we identify the individual responsible for verifying control effectiveness, the means used for verification of the control and the required frequency of compliance checks. Data from critical control monitoring is then used as a leading indicator to address emerging risks before incidents occur. By monitoring control effectiveness, the business can focus on underlying issues and can take proactive measures to prevent major incidents from developing.

Actions planned for 2015 and beyond

The work which we are undertaking on safety is long-term in nature and is expected to continue during 2015 and beyond. In particular, we expect to continue our focus on major hazard management – identifying and monitoring critical controls, instituting measures to reduce control deviation, and continuing to build organisational safety capability and capacity.

Safety targets and performance

Our target remains to operate free of injuries and fatalities.

The progressive focus on safety and the intellectual capital and leadership we have built in this area has enabled us to reduce the occurrence of safety incidents significantly. The business recorded two fatality-free quarters back-to-back for the first time in its history and the lowest fatal injury frequency rate (FIFR) of 0.04 in the history of the group’s operations. The group’s All Injury Frequency Rate (AIFR) for 2014 was 7.36, substantially below our strategic target of operating with an AIFR of less than nine by 2015. Whilst we have succeeded in maintaining an AIFR of less than nine since 2012, we aim for at least a 10% improvement in safety performance year on year.

This improvement in safety performance demonstrates our ability to deliver real progress towards achieving our target of operating without injuries or fatalities. It has also enabled us to reduce the cost of poor safety performance to the business.

Performance data for 2014 includes the impact of the 5.3 magnitude earthquake which occurred in the vicinity of Stilfontein, South Africa during August 2014 and affected our Great Noligwa and Moab Khotsong mines. Our consistent investments in improving safety technology proved critical in responding to this emergency. The use of radio frequency identification tags, enabling employees to be tracked helped ensure that every person was accounted for in a matter of hours and lifted safely to surface once a thorough inspection of the hoisting infrastructure had been completed. Thirty injuries were sustained by AngloGold Ashanti employees as a result of this unforeseen event. Excluding its impact, our AIFR would have been 7.15, a slight reduction over 2014.

In memorium

Regrettably, six fatal incidents occurred at AngloGold Ashanti operations in 2014. Four of these took place in South Africa. Three of these were the result of fall of ground incidents and one the result of an incident involving piping and construction work. Two fatalities occurred in Brazil following the failure of the braking mechanism for a rope holding a suspended platform in place.

The names of the deceased are:

  • Lwazi Bovungana, who died when struck by falling material on 2 March 2014 at the Mponeng mine in South Africa;
  • Luiz Alberto Santos Cerqueira and Thiago Luiz de Oliveira, who died in a shaft-related incident at the Cuiaba mine in Brazil on 20 March 2014;
  • Mncedi Ponti, who died following a fall of ground incident on 31 October 2014 at the Kopanang mine in South Africa;
  • Mafikizolo Sikhumbuzo Ngwenya and Thembinkosi Dubazane, who died following fall of ground incidents on 7 November 2014 and 25 November 2014 respectively at the Mponeng mine in South Africa.

We understand that, whatever our actions, we cannot alleviate the grief of families losing loved ones. We therefore remain committed to our target of operating without fatalities. At the same time we have provided as much support as possible to the families of the deceased, including meeting funeral expenses and providing financial support for the education of dependents.

Key performance indicators
Fatal injury frequency rate
(per million hours worked)
5yr Bar chart
Lost time injury frequency rate
(per million hours worked)
5yr Bar chart
Number of occupational fatalities  
5yr Bar chart
Injury severity rate
(per million hours worked)
5yr Bar chart
All injury frequency rate
(per million hours worked)
5yr Bar chart
Engaging with organised labour on occupational safety

During the year topics covered in agreements with trade unions included personal protective equipment, training and education and complaints mechanisms.

  1. * Excluding the impact of the 5.3 magnitude
    earthquake which occurred in South Africa
    during August 2014, AIFR for the group
    would have been 7.15.
Introduction Occupational illness