Strategy and Policies
Safety is a top priority for Randgold and we are determined to create an injury and fatality free working environment. It is vital that our employees can come to work every day knowing they will be in a safe environment, and contribute to the wellbeing of their colleagues.
We have robust safety systems in place at all mines and use the internationally recognised OHSAS 18001/ISO 45001 safety standard to guide and inform our practices. For example, we use a hierarchy of control to help manage our safety risks. We first seek to eliminate known hazards, where hazards cannot be eliminated we look to technology and mechanisation of processes to reduce exposure to risk and finally where exposure to risk cannot be removed we ensure we manage those risks with careful administration and monitoring, including the compulsory use of personal protective equipment. Our policies also include assessments of specific safety risks for each part of the mine, holding daily toolbox safety briefings in each department and having detailed procedures and training modules in place for areas such as chemical hazards.
Each site has an emergency response team, including a mine rescue team where we have underground operations. All our underground operations have a number of refuge chambers where workers can seek shelter in the event of rock fall or cave in, this includes 13 such refuge chambers at our Loulo mine which we believe is the largest number for any mine in West Africa.
The core of our approach to safety is to ensure each individual takes responsibility for the safety of themselves and those around them. To create this safety culture we include safety training as a critical part of induction for every employee and contractor, we hold regular audits to check employees’ understanding of safety behaviours, and all staff are encouraged to think proactively about safety risks. For example we encourage a right to refuse ie to challenge supervisors if they feel that appropriate equipment or other safety measures are not in place before doing a job. If an incident occurs, the safety, health and environment (SHE) department on each mine analyses the incident and works to ensure appropriate remedial actions are taken. They also ensure that illiterate employees are fully briefed on the meanings of written procedures and signs in their native language, an important consideration in some of the underdeveloped areas in which we operate. We also have a zero tolerance policy towards drug or alcohol abuse and unsafe behaviour on site.
Using simulator technology to drive safety improvements
The majority of vehicles used for mining tend to be large, heavy and capable of moving at relatively high speeds. This makes them both challenging and dangerous to operate – particularly in the dark confines of an underground mine. Therefore, ensuring all operators are well trained is a paramount concern for us.
To help improve our underground vehicle operator training we have invested over $1 million on driving simulators and presimulators from Fifth Dimension Technologies. These state of the art machines recreate exact replicas of the operating controls of our vehicles, which mean trainees learn to operate machines and become familiar with processes in an environment that is safe both for the trainee and the trainer.
Not only do the simulators provide trainees with a safe way to learn how to operate our heavy machinery, they also have smart technology that tells our instructors how a trainee is developing and when a trainee is, for example, over using the brakes or over revving an engine. That means we can also teach trainees to be efficient drivers avoiding unnecessary wear and tear on machines. For example, over revving an engine can lead to the loss of a $400 000 transmission and take the machine out of use for a few days.
Prior to the introduction of simulator training we were losing nearly one transmission a month. However since the simulator training began, the frequency of lost transmissions has decreased, helping the simulators pay for themselves in repair savings in just a few months. The simulators also mean we no longer need to divert machines away from production for training. Most importantly the simulators are helping ensure that when a driver gets behind the controls of a real machine they are completely familiar and proficient with how to handle it in all situations.
Simulator training has also allowed us to significantly decrease the time needed for training. Previously training a competent and confident driver could take up to a month, however, we have found by using simulators we are able to train a driver to world-class standards in approximately 10 days.