Grant Batterham, the environmental, health and safety director at our Koniambo nickel project in New Caledonia, reveals what is driving the site's safety success.
"We have just come through the busiest construction phase of the project during 2011, with more than 6,500 workers and contractors on site at the peak. The construction environment presents real challenges to safety: many contractors on site, multiple language communications and a lot of co-activity involving large equipment and infrastructure. In the midst of this, we worked together throughout the year to start building a robust safety culture at Koniambo.
Visible safety leadership is one of the most important elements of our programme. The senior leadership of the site actively participates in weekly safety walk-throughs at the site. These walks provide an opportunity to engage with workers and stress the importance of safe behaviour. We bring along language interpreters so that we can connect with all employees and contractors. We also emphasise that all workers are responsible for observing and reporting incidents as well as near misses, so that we can learn from these observations and prevent near misses from becoming accidents in the future. The senior leadership team meets weekly to review serious incidents or near misses to ensure that the appropriate corrective actions are being implemented.
Every day, teams start their shifts by taking a few minutes in the field to review the tasks ahead of them and the associated hazards. In these daily safety task instructions, workers and supervisors discuss the potential risks they are facing that day, including any other activities that may be going on within the same work area, so they can be prepared to operate safely within those conditions. Workers carry with them at all times a "Take 5" personal hazard safety card to remind them that, if they observe a potentially unsafe act or situation, they should stop work, step back, take five minutes to talk to a supervisor and correct the situation.
More than 600 supervisors and managers at the site participated in our Construction Safety Leadership Programme during 2011. This training consisted of three-day sessions, held on site throughout the year, in which these employees learned about the significant role that leaders play in establishing a strong culture of safety and demonstrating that this is a top priority for our project, for Glencore Nickel and for the entire Group organisation.
As a result of these efforts, we achieved a 56% reduction in our rate of total recordable incidents in 2011, compared to the previous year. And perhaps more importantly, we are building a safety management system and expectation that will be flexible as we look forward to commissioning in 2012. Our workers and contractors have the tools they need to understand and respond to the hazards of a changing workplace."