Safety and Wellness


Gold Fields continues to uphold its promise, ‘if we cannot mine safely, we will not mine’. This reflects the need to minimise any potential negative impact on our employees and contractors, maintain operational continuity and protect the Company’s reputation. Gold Fields’ Group annual performance bonus contains a significant safety component. Furthermore, maintaining safe and healthy working conditions is a key compliance issue for the Company.

As stated in our Occupational Health and Safety Policy, Gold Fields strives for ‘Zero Harm’ at all of our operations and to minimise occupational health and safety hazards. All of the Group’s operations are certified to the OHSAS 18001 international health and safety management system standard.

The work on safety and wellness is integral to our operational discipline and is accepted as the foundation for improved operational performance. As such, there is no conflict between pursuing safety and productivity at the same time.

Safety Management

Gold Fields remains vigilant and continues to introduce and monitor proactive measures to build on progress made in our safety performance.

Tragically, one fatality occurred during the year when Vakele Thafeni, an employee learner miner, was killed after a 1.5 magnitude seismic event caused an underground rock burst at our South Deep mine. Subsequent to year-end we had two further fatalities at South Deep. Thankslord Bekwayo, a dump truck operator, was killed in an underground accident on 1 January involving the truck he was driving, while Nceba Mehlwana, a locomotive driver, was fatally injured during a tramming accident on 16 February. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families, friends and colleagues of Messrs Thafeni, Bekwayo and Mehlwana.

Our safety performance shows a 33% improvement in the Total Recordable Injury Frequency Rate (TRIFR) to 2.27 incidents per million hours worked in 2016 from 3.40 in 2015. This is a significant achievement and is the lowest TRIFR rate at Gold Fields since 2013 when the International Council on Mining & Metals adopted the measure as the most accurate gauge of safety performance. Our TRIFR rate in 2013 was 4.14, while the number of recordable injuries since then has declined from 181 in 2013 to 124 in 2016. Of the 124 injuries, 76 were employee injuries (2015: 100) and 48 were contractor injuries (2015: 74).

During 2016, each of our eight operations reported an improvement in their TRIFR rate, a tribute to the behaviour-based safety programmes in place across the Company. Our work at embedding these into our day-to-day performance, along with visible management leadership on the ground, continues.

Group Safety Performance
  2016   2015 2014 2013  
TRIFR1 2.27   3.40 4.04 4.14  
Fatalities 1   45 3 2  
Lost time injuries2 39   68 75 52  
Restricted work injuries3 59   68 84 73  
Medically treated injuries4 25   35 38 54  
Total recordable injuries 124   174 200 181  
1 Total Recordable Injury Frequency Rate (TRIFR) Group safety metric was introduced in 2013. TRIFR = (Fatalities + Lost Time Injuries + Restricted Work Injuries + Medically Treated Injuries) x 1,000,000/number of hours worked.
2 A Lost Time Injury (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.
3 A Restricted Work Injury (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.
4 A Medically Treated Injury (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.
5 Three of the four fatalities in 2015 were workplace accidents. A fourth fatality was a member of the protection services team at South Deep who was shot and killed during a robbery at the mine.
Regional Performance

Details of specific regional safety initiatives implemented in 2016 are set out below:


After slipping in 2015 to 1.09 from 0.38 in 2014, the TRIFR at the Cerro Corona mine improved by 69% to 0.34 in 2016, with the operation only reporting one lost time and one medically treated injury during the year. Following the relatively poor performance in 2015 the mine intensified its safety campaign, containing 10 rules that every employee and contractor has to sign up to. It also focused on improving the leadership skills of safety supervisors, as part of visible safety leadership. Furthermore, 190 employees and contractors have been tasked with driving safe behaviour by highlighting good working practices.

During 2016, the TRIFR for Gold Fields Australia improved by 42% to 9.43 from the 2015 rate of 16.27. This is the lowest rate since the acquisition of the Yilgarn South assets in 2013, when the region’s integrated safety strategy was first launched. The TRIFR has been reduced by 73% since then. Three of the mines – St Ives, Darlot and Granny Smith – showed improvements ranging from 47% – 55% during 2016 and all three recorded their lowest TRIFR rate since 2013. Agnew’s improvement was lower at 13% after a number of safety-related incidents with a contracting firm early in 2016. Targeted interventions managed to address its performance.

At the heart of Gold Fields Australia’s safety efforts are two programmes: the ongoing Visible Felt Leadership and Vital Behaviours programmes, both of which were introduced in 2014. Risk assessments undertaken on all recordable injuries since 2012 indicate that the risk of incidences that result in recordable injuries is steadily declining with no high-risk events having occurred since 2014.

During 2016, all mines in the region revitalised their safety programmes as well as safety discipline. A particular focus has been on new employees and contractors, where there was evidence of a greater risk of injury. The findings of an anonymous survey among employees about the safety programmes and standards, carried out annually over the past three years, will feed into the region’s safety strategy for the next three years.

South Africa
South Deep’s safety performance showed a significant improvement with the TRIFR falling by 17% from 2.91 in 2015 to 2.42 in 2016. However, this overall improvement was overshadowed by the fatal fall-of-ground accident experienced by the mine in September 2016. In 2015 South Deep reported two mining-related fatalities and one fatal shooting.

As a result of the fatal accident, the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) issued two Section 54 work-safety related stoppages. A further 13 Section 54 stoppages were issued during 2016 following visits by the DMR due to either perceived unsafe working conditions, inadequate safety procedures or untrained personnel. This brings to 15 the total number of Section 54s in 2016 (2015: 16). Gold Fields continues to work with the DMR in addressing safety and wellness related issues at South Deep.

The number of total injuries reported by the mine went up from 68 in 2015 to 75 in 2016. (The TRIFR for South Deep is lower due to more hours worked.) Three categories – Material & Equipment, Fall-of- Ground and Slip & Fall – accounting for 77% of these injuries. Fall-of-ground accidents had been on a steady decline to six in 2015 but picked up again in 2016 with 15 incidents, including the fatal accident. We continue our efforts to move mineworkers away from potentially dangerous areas and have installed extensive secondary support throughout the mine to limit the impact of rock bursts.

The number of seismic events at South Deep registering above one on the Richter scale increased from 73 in 2015 to 101 in 2016 (of which six were over two on the scale) as the mine accelerated its ramp-up. Despite the fact that the average energy released per seismic event has dropped, the mine has intensified its efforts at improving its forecasting abilities. It is working with 12 consultancies and institutions, including the Institute of Mine Seismology and the Council for Geoscience, to monitor, understand and mitigate against seismic underground events.

Behaviour-based incident management and strict enforcement of safety standards continue to be the pillars on which the mine relies to improve working place physical conditions and address at risky behaviour. In ddition, 30% of bonuses, on average, are linked to safety-related performance. During 2016, South Deep rolled out four programmes to improve its safety performance, including back-to-basics training, hazard identification and risk assessments as well as artisan upskilling. Testing for alcohol and cannabis is also carried out as part of the mine’s zero tolerance policy, which applies to all South Deep employees.

Beyond behaviour-based management, South Deep has also intensified its effort to engineer-out safety risks, through pre-conditioning of working areas, as well as a focus on consumable material and equipment. As part of this, installation of a rail-bound proximity detection system was completed in Q1 2016, with which all 56 locomotives at the mine were fitted and relevant operators and artisans trained in its use. The installation of fixed beacons at the mine during the latter part of 2016 has helped to facilitate direct communication between the locomotives.

West Africa
Both Tarkwa and Damang reported better TRIFR during 2016, with Tarkwa improving by 23% to 0.31 and Damang by 37% to 1.67. The region reported no fatality in 2016 after recording one fatal accident during 2015. An external health and safety audit undertaken in Q4 2016 made no adverse finding and reported no high-risk events at either mine.

The mines rely on a number of behaviour-based and safety discipline awareness programmes to entrench safe behaviour and during 2016 this was supported by more frequent walkabouts by senior management. A key part of the safety strategy is a zero tolerance approach to drug and alcohol use, which is applicable to all employees in the West Africa region. Over 130,000 sobriety tests were conducted during 2016 and 28 employees and contractors, who were found to be over the limit, were discharged immediately. The zero tolerance approach is supported by free counselling and educational sessions on drug and alcohol abuse.

Employee Health and Wellness

Gold Fields is committed to reducing the exposure of its employees to occupational health risks, including those associated with air quality, silicosis, tuberculosis, diesel particulate matters and hearing loss. As such, each region has implemented occupational health and hygiene monitoring for diesel particulates, respirable and silica dust, other airborne pollutants, radiation and noise. Particular emphasis is placed on managing the underground working environments in Gold Fields’ Australian and South African operations, due to the heightened health risks that underground mining poses to workers.

All of Gold Fields’ regions run dedicated wellness 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, whilst also maximising its productive capacity and reducing absenteeism.

Occupational Diseases at the South Deep (rate per 1,000 employees and contractors)
  2016   2015 20141 20131  
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL)1 0.80   0.68 1.52  0.62   
Cardio-respiratory tuberculosis (CRTB) 5.26   6.16 9.15  6.5   
Silicosis1 1.12   1.54 2.67  1.86   
Chronic obstructive airways disease (COAD)2 0.64   0.17 0.76  0.00   
South Deep workforce 6,277   5,837 5,246  6,466   
1 Numbers are now presented per 1,000 employees and contractors. Comparatives have been restated.
2 Based on the number of cases submitted for compensation.

During 2016, Gold Fields’ South Deep mine reported a rise in the NIHL rate to 0.80 per 1,000 employees and contractors (2015: 0.68), while the number of NIHL cases submitted rose from four to five. During the year, the mine met the Mine Health and Safety Council (MHSC) milestone for equipment noise not to exceed 110 (A-weighted) decibels (dB(A)), though 10% of samples were above the 2024 milestone of 107 dB(A). It is important to note that these measurements do not incorporate the noise reduction effect provided by hearing protection devices, which are freely available and are compulsory to wear in demarcated areas.

South Deep continues to implement a range of medical, educational and engineering interventions to improve its performance in this regard. These include:

  • Early diagnosis and management of treatable lifestyle diseases
  • Preventative counseling on NIHL
  • Training on correct use of personal protection equipment (PPE)
  • Application of noise management measures to the underground mining fleet

At our Australian operations only two vehicles and machinery equipment across our four operations recorded noise levels above 110dB(A) throughout 2016. Operators of this equipment use appropriate hearing protection to ensure experienced noise levels are below 85dB(A). Two new NIHL cases were reported during 2016. NIHL mitigating strategies include implementation of engineering solutions to reduce exposure, the correct use of PPE and ongoing monitoring.

In West Africa, the number of NIHL cases remained at two new cases in 2016, amid the mandatory use of hearing protection devices (ear plugs and ear muffs) in areas with noise exposures above 85dB(A).

Furthermore, continuous monitoring of operator workstations as well as a number of in-pit machines – drill rigs, excavators, dump trucks and graders – are undertaken every six months. Engineering controls, such as sound proof seals for equipment operator cabins, are also having a positive impact on noise levels.

There were no reported NIHL cases at Cerro Corona.

Diesel Particulate Matter

Gold Fields undertakes regular monitoring and analysis of the concentration of DPM at all of its operations. This issue is particularly material at Gold Fields’ underground mines in Australia and South Africa, due to the potential concentration of particulates in specific working areas.

While there are no regulatory limits, the Australia region implemented a strategy in 2014 designed to reduce exposure to DPM with a focus on fitting filters to equipment, refining maintenance schedules, ensuring the correct levels of ventilation and providing appropriate procedural controls. Sampling programmes during 2016 have indicated the success of this initiative with a sharp decline in DPM levels underground, to a point where only 0.5% of samples have exceeded the 70μg/m3 target recommended by the Australian Institute for Occupational Hygienists.

In South Africa, the Department of Mineral Resources developed a draft regulatory framework, released in 2014, to establish a DPM OEL. This plan recommended a four-year ‘step-in approach’ starting at 350μg/m3 in 2015 and systematically decreasing to 160μg/m3 by January 2018. Gold Fields has over the years introduced a range of measures to improve monitoring and bring down the DPM exposure levels underground. These include the acquisition of vehicles and machines with more advanced engine technology as well as use of ultra-low sulphur content diesel. As a result the 160μg/m3 DPM OEL was exceeded in 11% of samples during 2016 compared with 15% in 2015 and 19% in 2011.

In Ghana and Cerro Corona, the exposure levels and concentration of personal and area DPM samples are insignificant.

Silicosis and Tuberculosis

In 2015, the Mine Health and Safety Council introduced new aspirational silica dust exposure targets for South African gold mines. These milestones require that personal exposure levels to silica dust be reduced from 0.1mg/m³ to <0.05mg/m³ by 2024. South Deep is already using the 2014 level to guide its performance and in 2016 26% of the personal silica dust samples exceeded this level. South Deep has accelerated the implementation of a range of improved dust control measures to gradually reduce these levels, including:

  • Real-time dust monitoring
  • Fitting water mist sprays at dust sources
  • Dust management controls on footwalls and internal tips
  • Installation of manually controlled water blasts in all working areas

During 2016 the Silicosis rate per 1,000 employees improved by 28% to 1.12 from 1.54 in 2015, with the number of Silicosis cases submitted to the relevant health authorities falling from nine to seven. Similarly, the CRTB rate improved by 15% in 2016 to 5.26 per 1,000 employees (2015: 6.16) and the number of CRTB cases submitted fell to 33 in 2016 from 36 in 2015.

In 2014 an industry working group was formed to address issues relating to compensation and medical care for occupational lung disease in the South African gold mining industry. During the year, the working group had extensive engagements with a wide range of stakeholders in 2016, including government, organised labour, other mining companies and legal representatives of claimants who have filed legal suits against the companies.

The companies – Anglo American South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti, African Rainbow Minerals, Gold Fields, Harmony and Sibanye – believe that fairness and sustainability are crucial elements of any solution and are working together with these stakeholders to design and implement a comprehensive solution that is both fair to past, present and future gold mining employees and also sustainable for the sector. The companies are among respondent companies in a number of lawsuits related to occupational lung disease, but do not believe that they are liable in respect of the claims brought, and are defending these.

At our open pit operations in Ghana, Australia and Peru, contact with silica dust is limited due to the nature of open pit mining and the low silica content of the ore bodies. In 2016, there were no new cases of Silicosis and two CRTB cases at our Ghanaian operations. Despite this, regular gravimetric sampling of respirable silica dust samples are carried out and evaluated.


HIV/Aids management is integrated into Gold Fields’ mainstream health services and Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) takes place during regular employee health assessments. This has the added benefit of directly addressing the interaction of HIV/Aids with related health issues such as tuberculosis (TB) and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

In South Africa an estimated 19% of adults (aged 15 to 49) live with HIV/Aids. Gold Fields is committed to lowering the HIV/Aids prevalence at South Deep, where the prevalence rate (% of the workforce living with HIV/Aids) was 5% in December 2016. There was an increase in the number of employees tested positive to 112 in 2016 from 69 in 2015. Since 2011, 3,440 employees have tested of which 403 tested positive. South Deep’s integrated HIV/Aids, STI and TB strategy directly addresses interactions between these diseases. It has four key pillars:

  • Promotion: This includes regular publicity campaigns and condom distribution at all workplaces
  • Prevention: VCT is provided to all employees, contractors, their partners and family members on a confidential basis. In 2016, the mine’s VCT participation rate was around 23%
  • Treatment: Free Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Treatment (HAART) is provided to HIV-infected employees through onsite, medical doctor-staffed clinics. In 2016, 53 employees joined the HAART programme (2015: 50). This takes the total number of active participants to 332 (2015: 296), with 533 cumulatively enrolled since the HAART programme began in 2004. Employees’ dependants can also receive HAART via the Company’s medical aid schemes. We do not provide treatment to employees from contracting firms, which provide their own support to their staff
  • Support: This includes doctor-based primary healthcare, psychological counselling and social services for all employees and contractors. South Deep also supports a number of community-based HIV/Aids projects.

In Ghana, where the national HIV/Aids rate is around 1.5%, employees and contractors have access to a confidential VCT programme which employees receive free of charge. During 2016, about 45% of the Ghana operations’ workforce underwent the VCT programme. Anyone testing positive is provided with free treatment in line with the government’s national HIV/Aids treatment programme. By year-end 2016 Ghana had 15 employees on HAART (2015: 19).


Our workforce in Ghana faces a high risk of exposure to malaria and the Company has a comprehensive malaria strategy in place, which incorporates education, prevention, prophylaxis and treatment. It also includes provision of mosquito repellent for workers, support for community health facilities and rapid diagnosis and treatment.

In 2016, 505 employees (2015: 523) tested positive for malaria after 3,181 (2015: 3,104) individuals were tested at both of our mines. None of the treated cases proved fatal. Employees and dependants who live in the mine villages have their company housing units sprayed as part of our Malaria Vector Control programme. Under this programme a total of 195 company housing units at both mines were sprayed in 2016.