Our approach is driven by the broad occupational, environmental and social determinants of health, given the close relationship between employee and community health.
The COVID-19 pandemic continued to challenge our ability to operate safely and productively. The emergence of multiple variants presented cyclical surges of disease on our operations, and resulted in a continued focus at communicating non-pharmaceutical controls to employees and their families and facilitating prompt access to vaccines as they become available.
Our health and wellness strategy aims to create line management accountability for employee and community health. It emphasises broad proactive risk management beyond our site boundaries to manage short- and long-term adverse health impacts. Our strategic objectives are to prevent harm from our occupational environments and to optimise employee fitness and well-being so that our employees can perform their duties optimally.
Our strategy focuses on predictive leading indicators to identify and address problem areas; implementing a common operating system and processes; appointing adequately skilled, competent and responsive people; and ensuring proactive and comprehensive risk management. We are introducing information and knowledge management systems in this area and are ensuring there is effective information, education and communication on health risks as well as continuous monitoring, assurance and evaluation.
We conduct systematic assessments and mitigation programmes for occupational and community health risks and impacts between the mine and our communities through baseline occupational hygiene assessments, as well as community health baselines and impact assessments. We use bow-tie risk analysis to identify, prioritise and develop critical, higher-order and evidence-based control plans. This facilitates the implementation of critical control management principles for health risk.
Our health risks vary based on occupational environments and the status of community health systems. All operations conduct quarterly risk reviews on a comprehensive set of standardised occupational and non-occupational risk categories and adjust their response plans as necessary
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed risks associated with shortages of critical or essential staff, including as a result of travel restrictions, and sometimes overwhelmed public and private health systems. This has potential implications on the ability to respond effectively to medical and even mine-related non-COVID-19 emergencies. The pandemic also elevated certain risks, and demanded the active management of mental health issues and chronic non-communicable diseases that increase the risk of severe disease and potential death. Mental health programmes have been undertaken to focus on preventative interventions, including proactive awareness and information programmes as well as resilience tools that complement the already existing curative-focused Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs).
The pandemic has provided a favourable environment to collaborate with social partners and contribute to strengthening community health systems and improving residual negative social health impacts. African mines still face high burdens of communicable diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS in the workforce, and remain partially reliant on external critical skills in areas such as occupational hygiene and emergency medicine. It is also often challenging to access optimal medical services in-country.
We continued to track and monitor the pandemic closely through our bi-weekly, group-wide, multidisciplinary risk update and reporting processes adjusting strategies, guidance documents, preventative controls and risk management processes accordingly. Vaccination coverage is increasing gradually as access to vaccines improves globally.
Key health priorities being addressed through this critical control management process include exposure to noise; silica dust; chemical agents like diesel particulate matter; welding fumes and lead; infectious diseases like malaria, HIV, TB and COVID-19; non-communicable diseases like mental health conditions, circulatory, heart and metabolic diseases; and ergonomic risks leading to musculoskeletal diseases.
UPDATED HEALTH STANDARDS AND RISK MANAGEMENT
In line with our health and well-being strategy, which includes strengthening governance and assurance systems and processes to avert long- and short-term risks and impacts, we are adopting a suite of updated health standards based on systematically identified major health risks or hazards. These standards are important to the introduction of critical control principles to manage health risk, where applicable.
All health standards now include gender and other applicable diversity considerations for health risk management and controls. There are specific requirements for gender and cultural or other diversity-related considerations in the planning and design of gender-sensitive facilities, equipment and personal protective equipment.
The health and safety section of our Risk Management Guideline and Risk Matrix was reviewed and updated to integrate health and hygiene consequence definitions and classification metrics into the initially safety-heavy approach to risk consequence classification.
The pandemic and its restrictions continued to pose significant challenges to the practical aspects of the remote occupational hygienists’ training programme that was developed with, and accredited by, the Minerals Council South Africa and the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. This programme aims to build critical occupational hygiene skills locally to reduce reliance on expatriate occupational hygiene personnel in Africa.
We introduced leading indicators to enhance the disease-based KPIs to ensure all operations continue to advance towards the elimination of occupational exposures to noise and silica dust. All operations have strengthened their occupational hygiene monitoring programmes and managed to achieve more than 70% of their monitoring schedules. Our operations have also met all targets set towards creating critical control registers and plans for at least six priority health hazards. We strengthened our efforts to cut hazardous occupational exposures and standardised our approach to setting baselines against which reduction targets will be measured. For example, our participation in the Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles initiative assisted in advancing our efforts to reduce diesel particulate matter exposure and improve air quality.
PUBLIC HEALTH INITIATIVES
We continued to collaborate closely with sustainability colleagues at sites to support community-based health initiatives and projects. Information and awareness initiatives continued for COVID-19 prevention and vaccination. African operations focused on other key programmes, including chronic disease and cancer screening outreach and malaria programmes.
Three out of four malaria programmes in our African operations were delayed due to national and international focus on COVID-19. Our world-class Ghana malaria programme sprayed over 1 million structures, protecting more than 1,300,000 people against malaria, creating 1,300 temporary jobs in local communities. This programme is a public-private partnership initiative that started after the successes of the initial AngloGold Ashanti-led community malaria programme.
The programme was recognised by the Ghanaian government and nominated to receive a Global Fund grant to expand its activities. In 2021, the programme operated in 16 districts of Ghana as well as 45 national prisons. Based on its strong performance, the programme secured additional funding from the Global Fund to continue its work in these 16 districts from 2021 to 2023. We also continued to use our malaria spraying platforms to support COVID-19 environmental hygiene initiatives at both Obuasi and Iduapriem. This programme received financial support from both AngloGold Ashanti and the Global Fund.
The health of our employees and communities is central to our business.
Related case study
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