Occupational Health and Safety is integral to our business strategy. We take a risk-based approach to managing hazards in the workplace to secure the safety and health of our employees and contractors. Managing employee health and wellness also has a knock-on effect, contributing to healthier and more aware communities.
Safe production is driven from CEO level down, alongside our aim to empower employees to understand management system goals and giving them the tools to undertake their work safely and productively.
Our approach rests on three pillars: creating enabling environments; empowering our people; and, providing fit for- purpose systems and processes. We focus on:
- identifying and addressing high-potential hazards
- learning from high potential incidents
- using technology to reduce risks
All Northam operations have risk-based safety management systems in line with the group’s safety operating model, and with the aim of delivering continuous improvement. The group relies on external initiatives relevant to our operations, conditions and risk profile. As a member of the Minerals Council of South Africa we have access to a Learning Hub promoting best practice; a CEO Zero Harm Forum to support the development of leading practices; the Mining Industry Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) programme (see page 26), and the Khumbul’ekhaya safety initiative.
The three pillars of our safety culture
Creating enabling environments
Empowering our people
Providing fit-for-purpose systems and processes
Safety performance in 2023 was mixed, with positive results in key performance areas reflecting ongoing improvements to the quality of safety leadership and operational risk management.
|Fatal injury frequency rate (FIFR)||Pmmhw||0.08||0.06||0.06||0.04||0.04|
|Total injury frequency rate (TIFR)1||Pmmhw||6.89LA||6.64||5.77||6.57||8.13|
|Lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR)1||Pmmhw||4.50LA||3.85||3.00||3.92||4.66|
|Reportable injury frequency rate (RIFR)1||Pmmhw||3.25LA||2.99||2.06||2.42||3.24|
|Lost time injuries recorded||Pmmhw||179||134||93||104||128|
|Dressing/medical treatment cases||Pmmhw||95||97||86||70||95|
|Man hours worked||Pmmhw||39 745 138||34 808 323||31 019 574||26 497 088||27 443 453|
Pmmhw: Per million manhours worked
1 Reporting in 200 000 manhours worked:
Total injury incidence rate (TIIR): 1.38LA
Lost time injury incidence rate (LTIIR): 0.90LA
Reportable injury incidence rate (RIIR): 0.65LA
Health and wellness are managed in parallel with safety and our systems cover employees and contractors. Our approach focuses on:
- occupational healthcare – mitigating health risks linked to our business operations, with the goal of maintaining occupational diseases and health conditions at manageable levels;
- primary healthcare – focus on supporting the overall health and wellness of our people, including general physical and mental health, and lifestyle diseases such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes and heart disease
Policies and programmes are in place to promote health and prevent workplace disease. Key to the success of the occupational health programme is the early diagnosis and treatment of incapacitating and disabling conditions.
All employees on site have access to medical specialists, hospital care, pharmacies, radiology and pathology services. These health services are provided onsite at Zondereinde and are provided by offsite third-party providers at Booysendal and Eland.
TB infection control and management is a priority: all our operations run effective testing and treatment programmes aligned with the TB guidelines of the World Health Organization. The current TB prevalence rate for Northam employees remains constant at 0.1% (F2021: 0.1%), reflecting the downward trend over recent years.
|New reported cases||30||33||32||38||61|
|Total number of cases||30||33||32||44||86|
|Employees on treatment||20||23||15||21||25|
Noise induced hearing loss
Prolonged exposure to damaging noise levels is one of the most widespread health hazards in mining.
We comply with the regulated noise threshold levels of 110dBA and implement measures to limit noise levels from machinery and equipment.
All employees receive PPE to reduce noise exposure to below 85dBA, and we use awareness campaigns to draw attention to the risks of noise exposure.
|Noise induced hearing loss||2023||2022||2021||2020||2019|
Occupational lung disease
Given the absence of quartz in the rock mined in the Bushveld, the risk of silicosis and occupational lung disease is eliminated. Our operations have, since inception used engineering solutions to improve health and safety, reducing dust and noise levels with the application of hydro powered underground equipment and mechanisation whereever possible.
- Wellness and wellbeing focuses mainly on supporting employees to understand and manage underlying health concerns – both physical and mental. This extends to chronic lifestyle conditions such as diabetes and blood pressure control amongst others. Counselling for substance abuse is provided while the group’s focus and strategy against gender-based violence also has a positive effect on employee self-esteem and conduct.
- Northam’s approach to HIV/AIDS in the workforce is guided by a comprehensive policy that promotes employee care, awareness, education and confidentiality, and non-discrimination. We facilitate ongoing awareness programmes, voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) focussing on early detection, and access to anti-retroviral therapy (ART) to support our workforce in making HIV/ AIDS a manageable disease.