Industry Q&A: Auditing, Compliance and HSE Management for Mining and METS
Health and safety statistics continue to be concerning for the mining sector, following the downward trend of the last 18 months. After an impressive year in 2012-2013, Australian mining has seen a worrying increase in the number of deaths and safety incidents across the board, affecting both mining companies employees and contractors on site. Austmine caught up with Troy Lockyer, Managing Director of Lockforce, to get his advice and insights into how this tendency can be addressed and curtailed. Troy has over 19 years military experience, and has worked with resources companies across SE Asia, the Middle East, Africa, USA, South America and the Pacific region to develop security and corporate risk plans and training.
What do mining operations need to consider when developing their safety document management system (DMS)? What is the benefit to having an integrated DMS that cover safety, environment, security and quality?
Within the context of mining operations, all management systems need to consider the different legislation, the operation of a mine and the management of sub-contractors, along with multiple mine sites and departments. The best way to manage this is to have a set of overarching management system standards which provides the framework in which each mine site, department and contractor needs to comply with. Then have a robust auditing regime in place to monitor the compliance with these standards.
All mining operations will have safety, environment, security and quality requirements. Many of the processes used to control with these areas are the same, therefore having an integrated approach will allow for the consistent application of processes across the business or, mining operation.
What is the biggest mistake most organisations make with regards to their safety documentation on site?
The majority of organisations don’t base their management system off their risk profile. Most organisations either purchase a management system off the internet or have one from a previous organisation they worked at. They then try and make it fit to their organisation. This usually obligates them to processes which aren’t relevant to the organisation, or are unnecessary. The flow on effect from not having management system documentation which fits the context of your organisation is that it wastes resources and time. More significantly, it can expose an organisation to compliance issues which lead onto fines, breaches of contract or loss of work.
In order to develop a management system that is relevant to your organisation, a detailed risk assessment needs to be conducted prior to the development of any management system documentation.
How important is the training element of implementing any new system into mining operations?
In order to have a robust management system, it needs to be used by all personnel within the organisation. Therefore training of personnel in the use of the management system is critical. The training element needs to be formalised in order to test personnel’s level of knowledge in the process being trained and then verify that the content is understood.
How can miners mitigate the safety risks behind having numerous contractors and subcontractors on site?
In order for Mining companies to mitigate safety related risks from contractors, it is best to have a set of overarching standards in place which provide the framework for contractors to comply with. The next step is implementing an auditing regime that ensures contractors are complying with the requirements. This will identify any gaps and then an action plan can be provided indicating what needs to occur to mitigate any safety risks identified.
However the reality is that most contractors don’t have the resources to engage a full time OHS professional to ensure that personnel are complying with company processes, and that evidence is sufficiently maintained for auditing purposes. Most organisations want to comply with mining requirements, but lack the technical knowledge to do so. To facilitate closing this knowledge gap, face to face training, seminars and workshops should be endorsed by mining companies, to ensure that contractors understand the intent behind the compliance requirements.
Is it possible to achieve cost reductions in production without impacting negatively on high safety standards?
Yes it is. The cost in lost production time alone due to safety incidents can cost mining companies millions. So the focus on safety should always be paramount as this will cascade down into cost reductions. If safety processes are applied correctly fewer safety incidents will occur, therefore less time is required for investigations, down time of expensive plant, replacing personnel who have been injured, mental health issues and insurance costs.
In addition, demonstrating that safety is paramount within an organisation will raise moral within the workforce which will result in increased production.
To understand more about improving safety levels, compliance and training within your mining or contractor organisation, contact Troy at Lockforce on +61 (0)7 5491 3971