Early in the development of our Group safety programme, we identified Kazzinc, our zinc-copper-gold asset in Kazakhstan, as one of five focus assets where we should concentrate our initial efforts. Years of state ownership had resulted in an erosion of the safety culture, with high rates of fatalities and injuries seen across Kazakhstani industries.  

In November 2013, we launched the SafeWork initiative here. Assessment of the operations, and the record of past fatalities and injuries, showed that electrical safety was a key focus area. To address this, we delivered specific training and conducted an electrical audit to identify the full depth of the related risks. 

  • Implementation continued throughout 2014:
  • A review of safety management and governance: from this we developed a comprehensive strategy to turn around safety performance. Oversight is conducted by the operation’s health and safety committee, which reports regularly to the Glencore Board HSEC Committee. We have also reviewed the site management incentive system, and ensured that this incorporates safety performance. We believe these measures will drive greater safety ownership at the site and support continuous accountability.
  • Training: we conducted training on risk identification and hazard awareness. We also carry out training on energy isolation, working at height and working in confined spaces at our training facility at the Ridder complex; we will roll this out to other operations at Kazzinc. We will soon have simulators for mobile equipment training as well.
  • Sharing knowledge across the Group: we have deployed safety experts from our Canadian and Australian operations to share their knowledge and provide on-the-job training and mentoring to their colleagues at Kazzinc. Managers from Kazzinc have also undergone advanced safety training in Canada and Australia.

In 2015 we will continue to address the safety culture at Kazzinc and improve its safety performance. In late 2014 we started a programme to strengthen the management team’s understanding of safety issues, based on 10 safety leadership principles:

  1. Safety as a top priority
  2. Visible management commitment to safety
  3. Safety promotion within the workforce
  4. Safety reporting
  5. Worker engagement in safety expectations
  6. Creation of an empowered learning culture
  7. Recognition and reward of good safety practices
  8. Openness to organisational and cultural change
  9. Open, transparent and effective communication
  10. Adherence to an integrated safety management system

During 2015, this programme will be developed and rolled out across all management levels, from Kazzinc’s CEO to all operational managers.

We are encouraged to see that our people are starting to adopt the required practices, with results that include a reduction in fatalities: from seven in 2013 to four this year; and a growing number of high potential risk incident (HPRI) reports and investigations. We believe that this shows better awareness of safety and an understanding that reporting HPRIs promotes understanding and prevention of incidents through identifying safety gaps, rather than being a punitive measure.

We are also pleased to see that other companies operating in Kazakhstan have a growing recognition of the safety practices at Kazzinc. We have been asked by other mining companies in the region to share our standards. We hope this will drive overall improvement in the safety management expectations of the region’s industry and government.