Safety in our operations

Rössing Uranium places great importance on safety issues in all areas of its operations and we continuously focus on creating an accident-free workplace. We maintain that all incidents, injuries and occupational illnesses are preventable and our goal is therefore zero harm. Our safety aims and objectives are formulated to encourage employees to behave in ways which project a positive and proactive attitude regarding safety.

In line with the Rio Tinto safety strategy, Rössing Uranium continued the three-pronged approach to managing safety in our operation, namely fatality elimination, injury reduction and catastrophic event prevention.

Acting on this approach, a number of safety milestones were achieved in 2016. The mine scored an impressive rating of 2.41 against the Rio Tinto Group target of 2.0 in the on-boarding phase of its fatality elimination initiative, ie Critical risk management.

The second milestone achieved was the leveraging on the potential fatal incident indicator in which the mine managed a 30 per cent reduction in the number of potential fatal incidents reported compared with the previous reporting year. (Seven were reported in 2016, ten in 2015.)

In addition, investigation training for superintendents and managers conducted in 2016 produced further improvements in the quality of the investigations, specifcally in defning ‘root causes’ in order to implement sustainable actions to avoid repeated incidents. As a result, the mine experienced no repeats of the same incident due to a diligent review of the critical controls inherent to this process.

Finally, the severity of injuries experienced was reduced by 28.5 per cent with the reduction in lost-day injuries from seven in 2015 to fve in 2016. Although these milestones brought the mine closer to our zero-harm goal, suffcient improvement was not demonstrated in reducing the number of injuries.

The following injuries occurred on the mine during the reporting period:

  • Lost-day injuries: 5
  • Medical treatment cases: 10
  • Incidents requiring basic frst aid: 29

Consequently, we recorded an All-injury frequency rate of 0.82 which is 11 per cent higher than the 2015 Allinjury frequency rate of 0.74, as depicted in Figure 10

We maintained vigilance to ensure that everyone goes home safe and healthy each day and introduced further improvements in our safety management systems and processes through focused attention on the following factors in 2016:

  • strengthening our systems with internal auditor training for our health, safety and environment (HSE) personnel;
  • a revised, simplifed Take-5 booklet that brought critical risk management closer to the workforce;
  • inclusion of critical risk management in our 'safe work procedure' process;
  • light-vehicle/heavy mobile equipment segregation, specifcally in the open pit;
  • Review of the vehicles and driving safety standard of Rio Tinto and improvements in the angle iron fxtures in parking bays to prevent uncontrolled movement of vehicles, ensuring fundamentally stable parking;
  • standardising our leadership-in-the-feld approach ensuring that all leaders apply it in the same manner;
  • conducting critical-lessons workshops to ensure that critical lessons are cascading down to all team members; and
  • reviewing all our safety standards and integration of the Rio Tinto Group requirements in all our safety systems and procedures.

Our journey on the path of safety continues. In 2017, we will focus attention on the following areas to bring us closer to the goal of zero harm:

  • frontline leadership development (in-feld coaching);
  • continued effort to reduce or eliminate lightvehicle/heavy mobile equipment and pedestrian interaction;
  • facilitated learning and focus to eliminate repeat incidents, including potential fatal incidents;
  • a rail safety review with appropriate improvements;
  • alignment of our process safety management standards to Rio Tinto standards;
  • frmly embedding critical-risk management in our operations;
  • creation of an operationalised and embedded management of change process; and
  • creation of a learning and engaging environment through our Call-to-Action initiative.