Report Selector

Integrated Annual Report 2019
Report Selector

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Our number one value – If we cannot mine safely, we will not mine – drives our goal of achieving zero harm, as well as the target of eliminating all fatalities and serious injuries at our operations. Safety forms a key component of performance management, and also informs annual performance bonuses for executives, managers and the broader workforce.

Group safety performance

2019   2018   2017   2016   2015  
Fatalities1 1   1   3   1   4  
Serious injuries2 12   17   26   17   15  
Lost time injuries (LTIs)3 38   34   52   39   68  
Total recordable injuries 104   99   138   124   174  
Total recordable injury frequency rate (TRIFR)4 2.19   1.83   2.42   2.27   3.40  
Duration rate5 29   48   49   67   58  
Safety engagement rate (SER)6 4.11   2.91   1.75      
1 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's Community Security Task Force drowned in a settling pond on the mine


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 injuries at our projects

Of the 12 serious injuries, 10 were reported by South Deep in terms of South African regulatory requirements. Of these, two meet Gold Fields' definition above. In terms of the above definition, Gold Fields recorded four serious injuries

3 A 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. Numbers exclude injuries at our projects
4 TRIFR = (fatalities + LTIs + restricted work injuries + medically treated injuries) x 1,000,000/number of hours worked. Numbers exclude injuries at our projects
5 Duration rate = days lost to LTIs/number of LTIs. Numbers exclude injuries at our projects
6 SER = safety engagements x 1,000/number of hours worked. Safety engagements are conversations between managers and the workforce to improve safety. Reporting of the SER commenced in 2017. Numbers exclude engagements at our projects

Group safety performance

Injuries per 1m hours worked


Tragically, on 3 June 2019, Maria Ramela, a 38-year-old trackless crew leader at our South Deep mine in South Africa, was fatally injured after being struck by a rock ejected from the face after a series of four seismic events in quick succession. Three of the events were between 1.4 - 1.9 in magnitude, which is higher than average. Three members of her team sustained minor injuries and, after receiving medical treatment on the scene, were referred to hospital for full examination and subsequently discharged.

Following the incident, on 4 June all South Deep operations were suspended. Furthermore, the affected areas remained closed for three weeks until it was deemed safe to resume production. While this was the only fatality Gold Fields experienced during the year, and it being amid significant improvements in the Group's safety performance, culture and systems over the past five years, the loss of Maria's life is unacceptable. It once again illustrates how important it is to continually drive our agenda of zero fatalities and serious injuries.

Subsequent to the event, and in co-operation with the South African Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, we reviewed our already stringent safety protocols and procedures to reduce the incidence and mitigate the impact of seismic events. Other remedial actions introduced include the implementation of new support standards in de-stress mining areas and installation of vehicle protective screens.

  For more details on our regional safety developments and performances, see our website at


The number of serious injuries declined to 12 in 2019 from 17 in 2018, however, this is still above our target of zero. There continues to be a downward trend in the duration rate, which measures the number of days lost per LTI, from 48 in 2018 to 29 in 2019, while the severity rate (which measures lost days to LTIs per million hours worked) declined to 23 in 2019 from 30 in 2018 and 44 in 2017. TRIFR regressed to 2.19 in 2019 (2018: 1.83) as the number of total recordable injuries rose to 104 (2018: 99) and the number of hours worked decreased by 13%.

While these trends show that we are making good progress, work remains to be done to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries at our operations. Some of our mines are getting close – particularly pleasing, during the construction phase, the Gruyere mine in Australia achieved in excess of 3.5 million hours worked without an LTI.

We continue to emphasise the importance of leading safety indicators, and all of our managers have the SER integrated into their performance scorecards. There has been a strong drive to encourage managers and workers to have conversations about safety and, as seen in the rise in SER to 4.11 in 2019 from 2.91 in 2018, this is having an impact. We hope that, over time, this behaviour will lead to an improvement in our safety performance.

Improving safety management systems and controls

All our operations, except for Gruyere, are certified in terms of OHSAS 18001, a leading health and safety standard. During the year we commenced upgrading our management systems to the new ISO 45001 standard. To date, all our mines in Australia, as well as Cerro Corona in Peru, have been certified. Our remaining mines will undergo certification in 2020.

The benefits of ISO 45001 are:

  • Adoption of a more integrated approach to health and safety management, encouraging company leaders to drive improved performance and management instead of delegating this responsibility to safety managers
  • A focus on identifying potential risks and implementing preventative measures (rather than just dealing with safety hazards)
  • Inclusion of suppliers and contractors in the management of health and safety

We continued to prioritise identifying and addressing the risks that lead to material unwanted events (MUEs) in line with the ICMM's critical control management approach. Controls are in place for all identified MUEs and, in line with previous commitments, we completed the independent verification of these critical controls of the highest priority MUEs during the year, which include:

  • Tailings storage facility incidents
  • Hazardous materials spillages and exposure
  • Heavy and light vehicle incidents
  • Slope instabilities in open pits
  • Fires and explosions
Group safety programmes

The Group Safety Leadership forum, chaired by Stuart Mathews, Executive Vice President: Australia, saw the need to:

  • Develop a culture of safety leadership within the organisation and firmly embed safety management as a line management responsibility
  • Provide appropriate mechanisms to engage employees on safety and equip them with the necessary skills to consistently achieve safe outcomes
  • Ensure the deployment of fit-for-purpose management systems that are aligned to a critical control management approach and are certified to the ISO 45001 standard

A Courageous Safety Leadership (CSL) programme was adapted from industry best practice through generous sharing by fellow ICMM members. The programme equips employees with practical tools to become safety leaders, and fosters an environment in which individuals feel empowered to speak out about unsafe behaviours.

During 2019, a dedicated CSL safety leadership training package was developed and rolled out to the Board of Directors, management and a cross-section of employees. Training will continue in 2020, and will also be made standard for all new employees. We are also extending our Australian behaviour-based programme, Vital Behaviours, to entrench the right safety behaviours and choices across the entire business.

Innovation and technology to ensure greater employee safety

One of the key drivers behind the further mechanisation of operations is to improve the safety of employees. Dedicated senior innovation and technology (I&T) leadership teams were established in all regions to drive initiatives that will improve cost, safety and productivity. During 2019, the telecommunications infrastructure at all our mines was upgraded to improve connectivity and real-time information.

A range of new technology systems were also rolled-out to improve safety, including people tracking, collision avoidance and traffic management. Vehicles at our Australian mines have on-board systems that collect real-time data on, inter alia, driver behaviour, which can be used to highlight potential opportunities for improvement. In Peru and Chile, vehicles are fitted with systems to detect driver drowsiness.

Technology at Granny Smith, which allows for real-time monitoring of people underground, immediately notifies them of an emergency so they mobilise to refuge chambers quickly. Safe arrival at the refuge chamber is automatically logged. Tests conducted to date indicate that there has been a 50% reduction in the time taken to account for all personnel working underground.