During 2013 and 2014, Glencore Coal embarked on a new approach to catastrophic hazard assurance. This assurance programme allows us to focus down on specific topics, using field verification activities such as physical inspections and interviewing workers, while also gauging the maturity of each asset’s safety culture. A robust safety culture is critical to managing catastrophic hazards effectively but is often overlooked in an audit regime.

We intentionally removed scoring from the assurance programme. It follows a five step approach:

  • Step 1: establish criteria
  • Step 2: each asset performs a self-assessment
  • Step 3: assurance team reviews the assessment
  • Step 4: assurance team reports
  • Step 5: verification

The criteria for assurance are established by external and internal experts. Each asset then assesses itself against those criteria. The assurance team reviews that assessment and seeks clarification as required before visiting the site to conduct targeted field verification activities. After preparing their report, they select a cross-selection of assets for verification after the programme is completed (generally three to nine months later). We undertook a pilot programme examining activities relating to the hazards connected to “underground gas and explosions” in 2014, followed by assessments of “vehicle interaction” and “underground strata” activities. We have begun planning for assessing “opencut strata” in 2017.

We have had the new approach peer reviewed by an independent expert to assess its robustness and adequacy and to identify areas for improvement.