SUSTAINABILITY Safety

Safety

Our number one value – safety – drives our goal to achieve zero harm, as well as our target to eliminate all fatalities and serious injuries at our operations. Safety is critical to enabling performance across the Group.

It is with deep sadness that we have to report that an employee at our South Deep mine in South Africa died in a mining incident in April 2021. Vumile Mgcine, a shaft timberman, succumbed to injuries sustained while attempting to unblock a chute outlet on an underground conveyor belt. To try to eliminate serious injuries and fatalities, South Deep has evolved its Safety Strategy, which builds on the Group strategy and rests on three human dimensions: motivation, mindset and method. It also places greater emphasis on people – especially the factors that influence decisions and behaviours. Each person at Gold Fields is expected to take personal accountability for safety based on the belief that all incidents are preventable. While technical solutions, strategies, rules and regulations contribute towards a safe workplace, these are rarely enough without also having a strong safety culture.

We recorded nine serious injuries in 2021, almost half of which were slip and falls, compared with six in 2020. However, the severity of these injuries reduced during the year, as the duration and severity rates decreased by 30% and 41%, respectively. The longterm downward trend in injuries continued, with LTIFR reducing by 14% from 2020 – a new low for the Company – while the TRIFR was 10% lower than in 2020. Agnew’s performance is particularly noteworthy, as the mine last experienced an LTI in 2019.

Our safety performance indicators combine lagging (fatalities and serious injuries) and leading indicators. Of the latter, all improved year-on-year, giving us confidence that the impact will soon be felt in the lagging indicators. Critically, we now average eight safety engagements for every 1,000 hours worked, almost double that of 2020. Reporting of near-miss incidents increased by 22% from 475 in 2020 to 581 in 2021. We promote the reporting of near-miss incidents to ensure lessons can be learnt, shared and preventative actions put in place to prevent more serious incidents in future.

We reaffirmed our 2018 commitment to zero fatalities and serious injuries by including them in our 2030 ESG targets released in December 2021. These targets guide the work of our teams implementing ESG priorities at our operations and offices.

Group safety performance (employees and contractors)

  2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
Fatalities1 1 1 1 1 3
Serious injuries2 9 6 4 17 26
Lost time injuries (LTIs)3 30 32 38 34 52
Total recordable injury frequency rate (TRIFR)4 2.16 2.40 2.19 1.83 2.42
Severity rate5 19 32 23    

1 We also recorded non-occupational fatalities at our mines during 2017 and 2018
2 Since 2019, we have applied Gold Fields’ definition in classifying serious injuries. In terms of this definition, a serious injury is one that incurs 14 days or more of work 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; or Loss of foetus.
3 LTI is a work-related injury resulting in the employee or contractor being unable to attend work for one or more days after the day of the injury. The employee or contractor is unable to perform any of his/her duties. LTIFR is per million hours worked
4 TRIFR = (fatalities + LTIs + restricted work injuries + medically treated injuries) x 1,000,000/number of hours worked
5 Severity rate = days lost to LTIs/hours worked x 1,000,000
Group safety and health strategy

Gold Fields’ zero harm Safety Strategy focuses on three key, mutually supportive and comprehensive programmes:

  • Courageous Safety Leadership (CSL), is about motivating employees to display leadership
  • The Vital Behaviours programme seeks to influence employees to make the right choices
  • The Critical Control Management (CCM) approach within our safety systems

In addition, all our operations are certified to ISO 45001, the leading health and safety management system standard.

The CSL programme equips our employees with practical tools to become safety leaders, while also fostering an environment in which individuals feel empowered to speak out about unsafe behaviours. Improvements to our leading indicators are a positive sign of potential improvement. Over 5,800 employees attended CSL training in 2021 – exceeding our target of 4,500 people – despite continued Covid-19 restrictions. To date, over 16,000 people have been trained.

CCM is a key tool used by Gold Fields to prevent incidents that have the potential to severely injure our people. We follow the approach outlined by the ICMM, and have learnt much from – and, we believe, contributed to – the efforts of our peers in the ICMM. CCM is a practical method of improving managerial control over rare but potentially catastrophic events – called material unwanted events (MUEs) – by focusing on critical controls. The first step is to identify controls for each MUE, in particular those controls that will prevent the event from occurring or mitigate the consequences. The absence or failure of a critical control will significantly increase the risk of an MUE occurring, despite the existence of other controls. We provide a level of external assurance over the critical controls in place for specific MUEs.

We established regional environmental, health and safety (EHS) scorecards to improve performance at an operational level. These scorecards include leading and lagging key performance indicators (KPIs), along with Groupwide and regional KPIs. Scorecard targets of 80% were again set for 2021, which were achieved.

Modernisation and the safety and health of our employees

A key driver behind the further mechanisation and modernisation of our operations is to improve the safety of our employees. We established dedicated innovation and technology leadership teams in all regions to drive initiatives that will improve safety, cost and productivity.

We made good progress on vehicle interaction technologies, with Tarkwa, Damang and Salares Norte installing collision awareness and fatigue management systems in their vehicle fleets. South Deep completed the design of a collision avoidance system using adaptive cruise controls in 2021, which is scheduled for deployment in 2022.

Removing people from active mining areas is another focus at South Deep, supported by a drive to expand tele-remote loading and rock breaking from surface. Granny Smith upgraded their tele-remote loading to allow two machines to be operated from one surface chair.

To improve the underground working environment, Gold Fields commenced with numerous underground battery electric vehicle trials. In 2021, St Ives received the first 50-ton battery truck in Australia; a matching loader is scheduled for delivery in early 2022. South Deep is also scheduled to receive an underground loader for trial this year while, last year, Granny Smith started trialling a rapid charge, battery power underground transport vehicle. These trials will allow Gold Fields to better understand battery vehicle options.

Gold Fields also participates in the ICMM’s Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles (ICSV) programme, which is working with mining vehicle manufacturers to reduce or eliminate injuries from vehicle interactions, ensure a healthier underground working environment free of diesel emissions and reduce GHG emissions through electrification.