Ensuring the health, safety and security of employees, contractors and communities
Safeguarding the well-being of our employees, contractors and wider mine communities is our priority. We aim to achieve zero harm across our operations and to ensure we bring no harm to the environment, communities and countries in which we work.
Maintaining the safety, health and security of employees and contractors, and contributing to that of communities is an important aspect of achieving our SLO. AngloGold Ashanti acknowledges that the well-being of our people, both internal and external, is central to operating a responsible and sustainable mining company that creates value for its stakeholders.
Aligned with global best practice, our operating standards seek to ensure we proactively identify and mitigate potential risk, while our risk management and critical control monitoring helps us measure and manage our impacts.
Our drive towards our ultimate objective of creating workplaces that are free of injury and harm has seen us implement and continuously adapt our Company safety and health strategies.
Our focus is on progressing the organisation’s culture to one underpinned by individual and collective accountability, engendering a sense of care and trust, and ensuring all are engaged in a process of learning about the nature of current and future risk. With the clear priority given to safety and health, we seek to ensure that no activity will be undertaken unless it can be done safely and without impacting health and well-being.
Given the interconnectedness of health, safety and security, AngloGold Ashanti’s approach now takes the broad occupational, environmental and social determinants of health and views them through the lens of the newly introduced Health, Safety and Security Revitalisation initiative. This initiative is accompanied by a Health, Safety and Security Strategy, and an updated set of strategic focus areas has been identified.
AngloGold Ashanti’s commitment to safety and health is achieved through:
- Complying with applicable laws, regulations and the voluntary commitments we have adopted
- Fostering a strong safety and health culture by providing effective and accountable leadership
- Continually improving occupational safety and health performance and management systems
- Striving to establish and maintain workplaces that are free from injury and harm
- Seeking to ensure that we have competent and capable people in roles, fit-for-purpose equipment, appropriate systems and procedures
- Proactively identifying, assessing and mitigating employee and contractor safety and health risks and opportunities
- Mitigating the community safety and health risks associated with our operations
- Adopting a stakeholder-inclusive philosophy by applying a consultative, participative and constructive approach in interaction with stakeholders
- Making our Health, Safety and Security Policy, related objectives and targets available to employees, contractors and other relevant stakeholders
- Using good-quality data, research and employee feedback in order to make informed, data-driven decisions and continually improve performance
“In 2022, we introduced
a refreshed Major Hazard Management process, which addresses every pillar, providing information in easily understandable formats.”
Our objective to achieve zero harm and eliminate fatalities permanently at our operations is driven by a comprehensive safety strategy. Safety is the outcome of everything we do, and it is vital that line managers take full ownership of the process.
As a responsible mining company, we follow best practices in global safety standards and are seeing improvements in injury frequency rates and a long-term reduction in fatal accidents.
Progress in 2022
We continue to design and implement strategies to eliminate high potential incidents, fatalities and catastrophic events. Our safety strategy focuses on four pillars: leadership and people, work processes, risk management, and technology and innovation.
The Major Hazard Management Standard is implemented at manager level, where managers are responsible for systemic critical control verification, inspections and the coaching of operational verifications, as well as the monitoring of critical control compliance. Line supervisors are responsible for operational critical control verification and operators are responsible for the actual implementation of the critical control.
In 2022, we introduced a refreshed Major Hazard Management Process, which addresses every pillar, providing information in easily understandable formats. The refreshed process visualises, simplifies and creates better understanding about potential hazards and how they should be managed. In this way, we work toward ensuring that critical safety controls can be recognised at every level of the organisation.
iSIMS and critical controls
The implementation of iSIMS continued during 2022, and will be further rolled out in 2023. See Our sustainability strategy and framework for more detail on iSIMS. Critical controls must always be in place and if they are found to be missing, this must be addressed as a priority. We plan to introduce a qualitative measurement for compliance using critical control verifications. This will be introduced at a supervisor level where every supervisor will have a clear safety-related KPI.
High potential incidents
To learn from, and minimise high potential incidents (HPIs), an HPI review committee was established to study selected HPIs and determine the adequacy of implemented controls and identify actions that can be implemented to prevent similar occurrences.
All contractors are trained in AngloGold Ashanti’s safety practices and all operating entities are ISO 45001:2018 certified.
In terms of innovation, a zero harm award system is in place to recognise proactive and innovative measures taken in support of our vision of workplaces free from occupational injuries and illness. The aim is to be less reliant on administrative controls that require human intervention, and to introduce additional engineering and higher order controls.
There are a number of priorities we will focus on in 2023:
- The remaining iSIMS modules will be rolled out and the system will become fully functional
- Systemic verifications will be rolled out through iSIMS, as well as continual self-assessment and bow-tie risk modules. Supervisors will use iSIMS to record operational verification in the inspection module using a desktop or mobile app. Operators will use existing continuous risk assessment systems, with the added introduction of stop cards. These cards are used by operators on a daily basis as part of their work execution. The cards list the critical controls required to be in place at all times and no work is undertaken if a critical control is not in place
- An in-person review of the safety strategy items will be hosted in the coming year, led by operational safety leads, selected senior management and technical discipline leads. The outcome of this review will be focused on the 2024—2026 strategy items and grouped under the four existing strategic focus areas: work processes, risk management, leadership and people, and technology and innovation
reductions in the number of people who were still exposed to silica levels above allowed occupational exposure limits”
Health and hygiene
Employee, contractor and community health are also central to our business, and this was made evident during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. While the pandemic continued to challenge our ability to operate safely and productively, our efforts to address the direct and secondary effects of the pandemic have helped improve collaboration with social partners and strengthened some community health systems.
Our health strategy has four pillars, namely leadership and people, work processes, risk management, and information management, technology and innovation.
Progress in 2022
We continued with a focused preventative strategy to manage priority short- and long-term occupational and non-occupational risk. We monitor major health hazards, with specific focus on critical controls for the reduction of crystalline silica dust.
Targets have been set which in turn inform the remuneration of leadership, which will help drive the desired reductions and potentially eliminate debilitating occupational lung diseases over time.
We are seeing encouraging reductions in measured exposures to some of our priority health hazards like dust, following concerted and systematic efforts to implement critical controls to reduce health exposures. While performance varies among operations, we have recorded significant reductions in the number of people who were still exposed to silica levels above allowed occupational exposure limits. These are as a result of concerted and systematic activities undertaken by the business to implement specific critical controls to reduce them.
Other identified major health hazards include other airborne pollutants, like diesel particulate matter and welding fumes, noise, mental well-being, infectious diseases, ergonomics, and chemical exposures. All sites continued to strengthen their health hazard exposure monitoring programmes as well as implement effective critical controls as we seek to eliminate harmful health hazards.
New health management standard
Our new health management standard was finalised during the year. This comprehensive and simplified health standard incorporates the elements and pillars that are needed for all sites to anticipate and address health risk effectively and timeously. It outlines requirements for occupational as well as non-occupational health and hygiene programmes, and includes the need to understand baseline and ongoing community health risks, while helping to ensure adequate medical emergency preparedness and response for all sites. The standard sets requirements for sites so they can optimise well-being and fitness for work. It also requires periodic medical surveillance to detect early onset of occupational diseases and effect remediation.
Self-assessment and assurance tools are being prioritised to help ensure effective implementation of these standards and allow us to assess the gaps in capacity and skills needed to implement our health strategies.
We continue to monitor the 10 major occupational and non-occupational hazard categories included in the Company’s risk management platform. We are working towards improving oversight of our contractors’ medical surveillance, as well as managing the emergence of musculoskeletal (ergonomic) disorders. Some of the additional challenges that persist and continue to require focused attention include infectious disease outbreaks, lack of adequate occupational hygiene skills, and chemical analysis capacity, especially at our African operations since they rely on overseas service providers.
Mental health improvement and overall well-being programmes continued to receive significant focus. In addition to implementing operation-specific efforts and activities that strengthen our mental health programmes, we are working towards providing the necessary stewardship to create mentally safe working environments across the organisation. To this effect, the CEO led a Group-wide session to acknowledge the World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2022.
Our governance framework has been strengthened with an outline of systematic requirements to provide preventive and curative services for mental well-being and to address the broad spectrum of mental disorders. All sites have plans in place to strengthen their preventive education projects and promote initiatives that address any stigma, provide coping tools and skills and encourage people to seek assistance.
COVID-19 and infectious diseases
The COVID-19 environment continues to stabilise and reported cases remain mild and asymptomatic with no severe cases or deaths reported in 2022. Vaccination and booster coverage are improving with 85% of our workforce and contractors now fully vaccinated.
Our COVID-19 crisis preparedness and response plan remains in place to help ensure vigilance and prompt action if necessary. We continue to raise awareness not only about COVID-19 but also other emerging infectious disease epidemics of concern that have been reported in either our countries of operation or neighbouring countries, such as Marburg, Ebola and monkey pox. Our medical teams across Africa remain vigilant and on high alert and have already secured appropriate PPE as well as identified isolation and testing facilities. Sites have hemorrhagic fever/Ebola preparedness and response plans in place, which have been reactivated and updated.
Public health strategy
All our sites in Africa continue to implement malaria control programmes to manage this endemic risk. In the year, a total of 2,151 new malaria cases were reported in the region, representing an annual incident rate of 11.78% of our Africa region workforce.
The Obuasi Indoor Residual Spraying programme was completed with support from AngloGold Ashanti Ghana and Global Fund grants in 16 districts of Ghana. The programme successfully managed to cover more than 210,000 households, protecting more than 1.2 million people from malaria. Iduapriem, Geita and Siguiri also collaborated with authorities to extend their education, awareness, and mosquito control initiatives to host communities. African operations also conducted outreach programmes for screening of cancers, chronic diseases, and HIV /AIDS across our host communities in Ghana, Tanzania and Guinea. Additionally, the Obuasi hospital also launched a 22-bed neonatal ICU to support local communities and child health.
In South Africa, we granted funding to an accredited educational non-profit organisation called the Foundation for Professional Development to develop and train healthcare workers in mental health resilience. This training, education and awareness initiative was initiated in response to the elevated burden and risk in burnout and mental breakdown among healthcare workers, especially exacerbated by the trauma and stress experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. This programme trained 1,506 public healthcare workers in various provinces with supporting material produced in English and translated into five local languages.
For 2023, priority and emphasis have been placed on reducing occupational exposures through implementation of critical control management principles, on execution of the iSIMS health modules and strengthening mental health. We will also focus efforts on compliance with the updated and newly approved Health, Hygiene and Well-being Standard. Comprehensive medical surveillance and well-being services are in place at all sites with improving participation and coverage.
Over and above the systematic mental well-being requirements currently in place, sites are required to complete operation-specific mental well-being surveys by the end of 2023. These will inform specific gaps and additional activities to be undertaken at sites, as well as provide performance monitoring baselines.
“Extensive engagement is ongoing to address the security challenges, in an effort to manage the risk posed by ASM and illegal mining activities at our sites.”
We are committed to acting with integrity, promoting transparency and good governance, and working with governments, NGOs and communities to co-design sustainable solutions to mitigate security risk. We also work with public and private security forces in countries where we operate. In all cases, security personnel deployed on our sites are required to undergo thorough induction in the VPSHR. In all circumstances we favour dialogue in resolving any disputes and will always seek to de-escalate any confrontation to provide the space for peaceful resolution.
The threats faced across our operational footprint remain complex, with escalated risk due to growing political instability, poverty, terrorism and the rise of ASM and illegal mining activities. Protecting the Company’s people, assets and products is vital to our business continuity and sustainability.
Since mining operations are always an integral part of their host communities, protection of the business cannot be seen in a vacuum. The security and well-being of our host communities will always be intrinsically linked to our success.
In all countries in which AngloGold Ashanti operates, threat and risk assessments are conducted to determine which security resources are required. Our goal is to be proactive, constantly assessing the risks and, where we see potential threats, we develop and implement mitigating strategies to address these.
Progress in 2022
In 2022, heightened risks across our operations and increasing criminality in some jurisdictions required regular review of risk strategies and tactical plans to counter and mitigate security threats. Extensive engagement is ongoing to address the security challenges, in an effort to manage the risk posed by ASM and illegal mining activities at our sites in Tanzania, Ghana and Guinea. Key to addressing these challenges is gaining support from all relevant internal and external stakeholders in securing our tenement and, by inference, protecting our people and assets.
Our response to this escalating risk in recent years has had positive results as we have focused on reducing the number of fatalities and injuries of those involved in ASM and illegal mining in our operational areas. However, of concern is an increase in injuries to security personnel related to persistent efforts by illegal miners to gain access to working areas.
The community policing initiative at Geita in Tanzania, in conjunction with the Tanzanian police service, continues to yield positive results and is being expanded across communities at the mine.
Our focus in 2023 is to increase our proactive approach towards risk mitigation. We will achieve this utilising iSIMS, which will perform vulnerability assessments, monitor control effectiveness, and seek to ensure the proactive identification, analysis and interpretation of security and human rights risks.