Integrated Annual Review 2012 Annual Financial Report 2012 Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves Regional overview  

7.1.4 Health and wellbeing

We are committed to delivering the kind of workplace and working practices that are conducive to the long-term, holistic wellbeing of our employees and contractors – as well as the maintenance of a fit, motivated and productive workforce. This is the driver behind our established ‘24 Hours in the Life of a Gold Fields Employee’ wellness programme (24-hours programme), which operates across the Group and addresses determinants linked to individual wellbeing:

  • Occupational health management
  • General health management
  • Individual safety behaviour
  • Lifestyle (including accommodation, nutrition, sport and recreation)
  • General education and development

This programme is of particular importance in our South Africa Region, due to the nature of the specific health risks posed by our deep, underground operations there, the socio-economic context from which many of our employees are drawn and the size of the workforce.

Figure 7.6: Health performance in South Africa (pre-unbundling)

  Category 2012   2011   2010   2009   2008  
  Noise Induced Hearing Loss submissions (NIHL) (Rate per 1,000 employees) 0.98   1.35   1.51   1.04   1.80  
  Silicosis submissions (Rate per 1,000 employees) 1.62   2.04   3.11   3.52   5.45  
  Chronic Obstructive Airways Disease (COAD) (Rate per 1,000 employees) 1.04   1.27   1.54   0.68   1.55  
  Cardio-Respiratory Tuberculosis (CRTB) (Rate per 1,000 employees) 16.38   18.02   15.97   13.89   23.79  
  Employees on Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Treatment (HAART) (retained) 4,365   3,7171   2,991   2,155   1,492  
  Started HAART (Individuals)2 7,140   6,1131   5,150   4,114   3,136  
  Exited HAART (Individuals)3 2,775   2,7311   2,159   1,959   1,644  

1 Restatement due to improved measurement methodology and reporting correction
2 Cumulative since 2002
3 i.e. individuals who have stopped participating due to a failure to conform with programme requirements, death, ill-health retirements or voluntary withdrawal. Exited individuals are – where relevant – referred to state programmes. In our labour-sending areas, this process is facilitated by TEBA

Figure 7.7: Occupational disease in the South African Region
(rate per 1,000 employees – pre-unbundling)

Occupational health management

All employees are subject to initial and annual medical assessments – tailored in line with local legal requirements, as well as operation and role-specific health risks. The assessments are aimed at preventing, identifying and treating occupational diseases.

In 2012, we submitted the following cases to local occupational health authorities for certification across the Group:

  • 54 cases of Chronic Obstructive Airways Disease (COAD) (2011: 66)
  • 58 cases of Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) (2011: 139)
  • 84 cases of Silicosis (2011: 107)
  • 851 cases of Cardio-Respiratory Tuberculosis (CRTB)1 (2011: 913)

Our deep underground and relatively labour-intensive South African operations tend to pose higher risks with respect to all four of these occupational diseases. Employees in South Africa are also subject to quantitative, confidential Health Risk Assessments, which relate to each of these occupational diseases, as well as general health and lifestyle issues such as hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol, diet and mental health. Where necessary, participating employees are referred to practitioners – who can proactively address identified risk factors – as well as to our High Performance Centres and Employee Assistance Programme, which can provide broader lifestyle support.

Employees in South Africa
Employees in South Africa

Engineering-out health risks

As with safety risks, one of the most important ways we can reduce occupational health risks is through proactive engineering, which aims to reduce noise and dust levels in line with South Africa’s Mine Health and Safety Council milestones for 2013. Key environmental management measures implemented under our Noise and Dust Management System in 2012 include:

  • Ongoing installation of tip-filters to minimise dust generation
  • Ongoing chemical spraying to suppress dust at foot walls
  • Initiation of mist sprays along haulage routes to help trap moving dust concentrations
  • Application of chemical dust settling agents along surface haulage roads
  • Installation of real-time dust measurement equipment to allow for rapid trouble-shooting and the accumulation of more comprehensive risk-mapping

Personal Protective Equipment

We are also carrying out extensive work through our Respiratory Protection Programme to ensure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is suitable and effective given underground conditions and likely employee activities. This includes, for example, examination of ‘open-faced’ helmets that utilise an active ‘air curtain’ to minimise exposure to dust and particulates (see below).

In addition, we are testing ‘in-ear’ dosimeters to allow for the more accurate measurement of ‘net’ employee exposure to noise (i.e. in addition to the measurement of ambient exposure) – and to tailor more effective management interventions around this.

Managing diesel particulates

In 2012, we accelerated our work on the management of diesel particulate exposure. This has been partly prompted by the July 2012 classification of such particulates as carcinogenic by the World Health Organisation and International Agency for Research on Cancer – and builds on our existing work on this issue.

We are currently carrying out test work to establish the best control measures for diesel particulates, including the testing of diesel oxidisation catalysts, lower sulphur engines, diesel particulate filters, increased ventilation throughput – as well as PPE.

Silicosis litigation

The Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act, No 78 of 1973 (ODMWA), governs the compensation paid to mining employees who contract certain illnesses, such as silicosis. Recently, the South African Constitutional Court ruled that a claim for compensation under ODMWA does not prevent an employee from seeking compensation from their employer in a civil action under common law (either as individuals or as a class).

On 21 August 2012, a court application was served on a group of respondents that included Gold Fields (the ‘August Respondents’). On 21 December 2012, a further court application was issued and was formally served on a number of respondents, including Gold Fields, (the ‘December Respondents’ and, together with the August Respondents, the ‘Respondents’) on 10 January 2013, on behalf of classes of mineworkers, former mineworkers and their dependents who were previously employed by, or who are currently employed by, among others, Gold Fields and who allegedly contracted silicosis and/or other occupational lung diseases (the ‘Classes’). The court application of 21 August 2012 and the court application of 21 December 2012 are together referred to below as the ‘Applications’.

These Applications request that the court certify a class action to be instituted by the applicants on behalf of the Classes. The Applications are the first and preliminary steps in a process where, if the court were to certify the class action, the applicants may, in a second stage, bring an action wherein they will attempt to hold the Respondents liable for silicosis and other occupational lung diseases and resultant consequences. In the second stage, the Applications contemplate addressing what the applicants describe as common legal and factual issues regarding the claim arising from the allegations of the entire Classes. If the applicants are successful in the second stage, they envisage that individual members of the Classes could later submit individual claims for damages against the respective Respondents. The Applications do not identify the number of claims that may be instituted against the Respondents or the quantum of damages the applicants may seek.

With respect to the Applications, Gold Fields has filed notices of its intention to oppose both the Applications and has instructed its attorneys to defend the claims. Gold Fields and its attorneys are engaging with the applicants’ attorneys in both Applications to try to establish a court-sanctioned process to agree the timelines, (including the date by which Gold Fields must file its papers opposing the Applications) and the possible consolidation of the separate applications. At this stage, Gold Fields cannot quantify its potential liability from these actions.

HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis

Our 52,100-strong workforce2 in South Africa faces a significant risk of exposure to HIV/AIDS, by virtue of living and working in a country which has an adult prevalence rate of 17.3%3 – as well as other factors such as employee demographics, migratory status and lifestyles. As a result, HIV/ AIDS and Tuberculosis (TB, which is exacerbated as a result of co-infection with HIV/AIDS) remain the main drivers behind employee morbidity rates, mortality rates and medically induced retirement. In 2012 our medically related death rate was 6.52 per 1,000 employees.

Our integrated HIV/AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and TB strategy (developed in cooperation with the South African HIV Clinicians Society) directly addresses the interrelationships between HIV/AIDS, other STIs and TB.

The strategy is based on:

  • Promotion: Including workplace HIV/ AIDS education and awareness raising through regular publicity campaigns and condom distribution in all workplaces
  • Prevention: Including the provision of free and confidential Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) to all employees in South Africa – with a participation rate of 15% (2011: 11%)
  • Treatment: Including the provision of free Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Treatment (HAART) to HIV infected employees through our on-site, doctor-staffed clinics. In 2012, 1,027 employees in South Africa joined our HAART programme (2011: 1,010), taking the total number of active participants to 4,365 (2011: 3,7171). Employees’ dependants can receive HAART via our medical aid schemes
  • Support: Including through our 24 Hours in the Life of a Gold Fields Employee programme – with services such as doctor-based primary healthcare, psychological counselling and social services. We extend such support to medically retired employees through our home-based care programmes in labour-sending areas
1 Restatement due to improved measurement methodology and reporting correction

We also carry out extensive work to address stigmatisation and discrimination to remove any barriers that would otherwise stop employees from participating in VCT and HAART. This includes the integration of HIV/AIDS management into our mainstream health services – with VCT taking place during our general Health Risk Assessments, for example. This has the added benefit of enhancing our response to potential interactions with related issues such as TB and other STIs.

In 2012, we initiated the first phase of a new HIV/AIDS and TB initiative, which will see ‘high risk’ employees tested for TB using newly installed GeneXpert technology – as well as an optional HIV/AIDS test at the same time. Around 481 employees were tested using the new technology (all employees receive annual testing for TB using standard sputum-based methods). Subsequent planned phases include:

  • Potential partnership by both Gold Fields and Sibanye Gold with AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold, the Department of Health, the Aurum Institute, UNAIDS and relevant NGOs on the extension of GeneXpert screening to local communities
  • Future roll-out of the strategy to the gold sector’s labour-sending areas within South Africa – and then to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region

This will complement our existing work on HIV/AIDS in our local communities, which is done in recognition of the interrelationship with the prevalence of the disease within our workforce (p137 – 138).




We fully recognise the important role decent accommodation plays in terms of employee wellbeing and morale. This is particularly so in our South Africa Region, where about 85% of our workforce comes from domestic and Southern African Development Community labour-sending areas. It has also been a historically contentious issue in South Africa, due to traditional reliance by the industry on high-density accommodation (or hostels) to house workers living away from home.

In 2006 Gold Fields launched its five-year R750 million housing programme at its South African operations. Until the end of December 2012 R582 million of this had been spent on building new houses and hostel upgrades and to date we have provided 594 new homes to employees and improved the room density at our hostels from around eight people per room in 2006 to 1.4 per room in 2012.

There are three key aspects to our approach to accommodation – which is also regulated by our current 2012 Social and Labour Plans (p149):

  • Construction of family accommodation: Although the original Mining Charter requires us to upgrade hostels into family accommodation – we prefer to go further and construct new family units in viable, stable communities. In 2012, Gold Fields initiated construction of 200 new family units at East Village and Glenharvie near KDC
  • Upgrading of single-person hostels: During 2012, we upgraded 329 rooms at hostels in South Deep. We are currently looking at longer term plans to fundamentally review our housing and hostel policy at South Deep

Living out

A total of 15,359 of our employees in South Africa decide not to live in high-density or family accommodation – and receive a Living Out Allowance (LOA) of R1,640 (US$200) a month. Many employees who take up the LOA choose to live in informal settlements. We do not encourage these informal settlements, but to the extent that they appear inevitable, we try and mitigate their negative impacts and ensure the wellbeing of our employees by helping improve living conditions there. As poor living conditions were identified as one of the underlying reasons for the illegal strike actions that affected South African gold mines during 2012 (p38 – 39), the LOA and its attached conditions need to be re-evaluated.

Efforts to improve living conditions in informal settlements include the ongoing supply of safe drinking water and assistance with waste management. In addition, we are exploring potential opportunities to work with other stakeholders (including our peer companies and local officials) on a joint Community Waste Management Project on the West Rand, and to potentially integrate relevant informal settlements into our own waste management programmes.