Responsible mining and metals companies have an unwavering commitment to the health, safety and well-being of their workers and their families, local communities and wider society. But despite the implementation of comprehensive safety management systems by many companies, fatalities and potential fatalities continue to occur.
As an industrial activity, mining is often hazardous – but this doesn’t mean it cannot be done safely. And ICMM member companies are working towards a common vision of zero fatalities. With effective risk management, accidents are preventable.
Health and safety needs to be central to all operations and processes – with every practical and reasonable measure adopted to eliminate workplace fatalities, injuries and disease from mining and metals activities. Key hazards of particular relevance to mining include:
- fall of ground/rock falls/seismic activity, especially in underground environments
- collision of vehicles, with other vehicles, stationary equipment and personnel by land, sea and air
- explosions, especially from the build-up of natural gasses, which is particularly hazardous in (but not unique to) coal mining
- catastrophic failure of mine infrastructure (e.g. tailings dam or mine wall failure, “outbursts” and “inrushes”)
- flight safety incidents.
The above list is not exhaustive, but serves to show the wide range of risks present in the workplace that can lead to fatalities. ICMM produces an annual mining safety report covering the fatality and injury data of its members. The aim of which, is to encourage information and knowledge-sharing among members, and catalyse learning across the industry on where to focus efforts. Find our latest safety data reporting here.
Mining and metals companies need to use a combination of risk management systems, leadership and establishing a culture of safety to help stop these hazards from causing illness and injury at work and in local communities.
Safety risk management
Risk management seeks to combat events of low consequence but high frequency (for example, a fall resulting in a bruised knee) and those that are of high consequence, but low frequency, specifically injuries and illnesses that can result in loss of life. Managing these risks requires implementation of agreed controls.
ICMM has developed what it considers good practice on managing high consequence, low frequency events in the industry. For further information see critical control management. Other organisations, such as the Flight Safety Foundation and its BARS programme, also provide useful additional guidance.
Safety leadership and culture
The focus of this element is centred on proactive actions and behaviours that can be exercised by the mining and metals industry to help eliminate the risk of incidents occurring. Leaders, from chief executives to frontline supervisors, are vital in this regard as they set the tone for others in their organisation to follow. A visible commitment to health and safety at all levels of an organisation is essential, which is central to establishing a culture of safety.
To support industry in working towards achieving zero fatalities ICMM has produced key resources aimed at addressing many of the important issues on health and safety.
Leadership matters: eliminating fatalities is a guide for senior leaders to help increase workplace safety, both through their personal actions and through the processes and activities they need to ensure are in place.
Leadership matters: managing fatal risk guidance is a document intended for managers at operations on-site, and should be read in conjunction with the first Leadership Matters document. This guidance provides a series of self-diagnostic prompts, built around an internationally recognised risk management framework that can help identify potential gaps in safety management systems.
ICMM will continue to work diligently with our members to achieve our goal of zero fatalities by providing a forum for companies to come together, to share and learn from each other and other industries and to build on the guidance already developed.