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Health, Safety & Wellness



Gold Fields’ commitment to health and safety as our foremost priority reflects the importance of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of our employees and contractors, maintaining operational continuity and protecting our reputation. During 2018, we remained focused on improving our performance and entrenching the requirement to operate safely into all daily activities. Gold Fields’ target is the elimination of all fatalities and serious injuries, and our ultimate goal is zero harm.

Safety forms a fundamental component of performance management, and our annual performance bonus – for executives, managers and the wider workforce – contains a substantial safety component. Furthermore, maintaining safe and healthy working conditions is a key compliance issue.

Our first and most important value, “If we cannot mine safely, we will not mine”, remains critical to the sustainability of our organisation. As specified in our Occupational Health and Safety Policy Statement, updated in 2018, we endeavour to continually improve our occupational health and safety performance by providing a workplace that is conducive to health and safety.

Our Group Safety Leadership Forum, formed in 2017, is overseeing the development of the Group-wide safety strategy to further improve our safety performance, continually embed safety as a line management responsibility, and share learnings and good practices. The strategy comprises three pillars, namely systems and processes, safety leadership, and safe behaviour, that will direct our safety programmes.

The most important programmes focus on the elimination of material unwanted events (MUEs), fatalities and serious potential incidents. MUEs in health and safety, environment and community have been identified and prioritised in each region. Gold Fields’ MUEs in the safety and health area are dropped objects, light vehicles, working at heights, hazardous materials, particularly cyanide, confined spaces, slope stability, explosives and fires, tailings facility incidents, community activism and protests, and surface water pollution.

During 2017 Gold Fields adopted the International Council on Mining & Metals’ (ICMM) critical control management of MUEs, which entails listing MUEs, identifying controls that could prevent these incidents from occurring and reducing the impact should they occur, selecting those controls that are critical or essential and, finally, bedding down the controls and verifying their effectiveness. Our regions make quarterly presentations to the Board’s Safety, Health and Sustainable Development (SHSD) Committee on safety-related MUEs and their critical controls. Health, environmental and community MUEs and their critical controls are presented every alternate quarter. Critical controls will be independently verified during 2019.

All of the Group’s operations are certified to the OHSAS 18001 international health and safety management system standard. There are opportunities for us to improve these systems, including upgrading to the ISO 45001 standard over the next two years and increasing use of leading indicators.

Our safety leadership forum has initiated the development and roll out of a “Courageous Leadership” programme to align all employees to a common set of beliefs and attitudes to health and safety. This programme will be cascaded to every employee in the organisation. As a supporting and complementary initiative to the leadership programme, the “Vital Behaviours” programmes will be implemented in all regions, based on the success of this initiative at our Australian operations where we have seen fundamental shifts in the safety culture.

We are very conscious of major incidents in the mining industry globally and consequently implement mitigating actions to prevent the risk of similar incidents at our operations. We have benefited from greater sharing of information about fatal incidents between ICMM members.

The work on safety is integral to our operational discipline and is accepted as the foundation for improved operational performance. As such, pursuing safety and productivity at the same time are mutually reinforcing.

Group safety performance

Our generally improved safety performance during 2018 was overshadowed by a fatal incident in which our South Deep colleague, Ananias Mosololi, a load haul dump operator, was trapped between the door and the cabin of the dumper he was operating underground. Following the incident, and the subsequent joint investigations with the regulator, South Deep conducted a comprehensive analysis to understand what took place and prevent its recurrence.

In a non-mining-related incident, a member of the Community Security Task Force, Francis Yeboah, drowned in a settling pond at our Tarkwa mine in Ghana. The local police did not suspect foul play in the incident.

During 2018, Gold Fields’ safety performance improved significantly from 2017. We recorded one fatal injury compared with three fatal injuries in 2017. Our TRIFR for the year improved by 18% to 1.83 injuries per million hours worked in 2018 from 2.24 in 2017, exceeding our target of a 12% reduction. The TRIFR among employees in 2018 was 1.94 (2017: 2.69) and among contractors 1.75 (2017: 2.16). The number of recordable injuries fell to 99 in 2018 (2017: 138). Of the 99 injuries, 43 were employee injuries (2017: 75) and 56 were contractor injuries (2017: 63).

The elimination of serious injuries, along with fatalities, is viewed as a safety priority. During 2018 we finalised the definition of a serious injury (see in table footnote below).

Gold Fields recorded 18 serious injuries in 2018 (2017: 28), which will serve as a baseline for future performance.

To further entrench safe behaviour in our workplace, the Board broadened the 2019 safety performance scorecards by adding a number of leading indicators to the current lagging indicators to measure safety performance. These leading indicators are the number of safety engagements (introduced to the LTIP in 2018), improved reporting of near-miss incidents, and timeous close-out of corrective actions on serious potential incidents. The elimination of serious injuries will be included in scorecards for the first time in 2019.

Group safety performance

  2018   2017 2016 2015 2014  
TRIFR1 1.83   2.42 2.27 3.40 4.04  
Fatalities2 1   3 1 4 3  
Serious injuries3 17   26 19 27  
Lost time injuries (LTIs)4 34   52 39 68 75  
Restricted work injuries (RWI)5 45   60 59 68 84  
Medically treated injuries (MTI)6 19   23 25 35 38  
Total recordable injuries 99   138 124 174 200  
1 TRIFR = (fatalities + LTIs + RWIs + MTIs) x 1,000,000/number of hours worked.
2 In both 2017 and 2018 we also recorded non-occupational fatalities at our mines. In 2017, a member of the protection services team at South Deep was shot and killed during a robbery at the mine, while in 2018 a member of Tarkwa mine’s Community Security Task Force drowned in a settling pond on the mine
3 A Serious injury is an injury that incurs 14 or more days lost and results in:
– A fracture of any bone (excluding hairline fractures and fractures of fingers, toes or nose)
– Internal haemorrhage
– Head trauma (including concussion, loss of consciousness) requiring hospitalisation
– Loss of all or part of a limb (excluding bone dressing to facilitate medical treatment of injured fingers and toes)
– Permanent loss of function and/or permanent disability such as hearing loss or damage to lung function
– Permanent disfigurement where the injury has resulted in the appearance of a person being deeply and persistently harmed medically and that is likely to lead to psychosocial problems Numbers exclude our projects
4 An LTI is a work-related injury resulting in the employee or contractor being unable to attend work for a period of one or more days after the day of the injury. The employee or contractor is unable to perform any of his/her duties
5 An RWI is a work-related injury sustained by an employee or contractor which results in the employee or contractor being unable to perform one or more of his/her routine functions for a full working day, from the day after the injury occurred. The employee or contractor can still perform some of his/her duties
6 An MTI is a work-related injury sustained by an employee or contractor which does not incapacitate that employee or contractor and who, after having received medical treatment, is deemed fit to immediately resume his/her normal duties on the next calendar day, immediately following the treatment or re-treatment

Health and Wellness


Occupational health is critical to Gold Fields’ operations and we are committed to reducing our employees’ exposure to occupational health risks, including those associated with silicosis, tuberculosis (TB), noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), diesel particulate matter (DPM) and hearing loss.

Our Occupational Health and Safety Policy Statement, revised in 2018, sets out our approach and we endeavour to provide a workplace that is conducive to the health of our employees. The implementation of the ICMM’s critical controls guidelines (p63) is key to ensuring healthy workplaces and assists with the identification and mitigation of adverse health impacts on our employees.

Longer term, we are working in a collaborative initiative with the ICMM on Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles (p75). In addition, we are implementing new technologies that allow us to move material underground through remote loading via an operating room on surface, thus moving operations away from potential risks.

All of Gold Fields’ regions run dedicated health programmes, tailored to both the national and local context of each mining operation. These programmes aim to identify and manage chronic medical conditions within the workforce, while also maximising its productive capacity and reducing absenteeism.

Health programmes are a strong focus for our South Deep mine, due to the heightened health risks associated with deep-level underground mining, as well as the prevalence of many chronic diseases as a result of the relatively poor socioeconomic conditions in the country. While there were no occupational health related deaths at our mines during 2018, seven contractors and employees in our service died as a result of wider health related issues: five from HIV/Aids-related complications, one from cerebral malaria and one from drug-resistant TB. Our condolences go out to the families and friends of our colleagues.

For more details view our latest Integrated Annual Report 2018.