Sustainable Development Report 2010 Sustainable Development Report 2010

Safety nets contain rock behind them
in the event of a rock burst,
thereby protect those working
on that face.

Target: whistling its way to a safer working environment

Harmony's Target mine near Allanridge in the Free State has suffered a spate of seismic events over the last financial year, resulting in a disappointing increase in the incidence of fall of ground (FOG) accidents. The tragic loss of two employees, Keith Coleman from Welkom and Asley Nortje from Odendaalsrus, in October 2009, as a result of a gravity-related FOG accident, inspired renewed and determined focus at Target on FOG accident prevention. A range of new measures with this goal in mind were subsequently put into place and have yielded excellent results.

At the forefront of Target's FOG prevention efforts was the ‘Whistle your way to safety' awareness campaign, which was implemented in January 2010 and remains ongoing. Every shift supervisor now carries a pea whistle, which he can blow at any time. As soon as the whistle is heard, all work is stopped and every crew member conducts a check of his/her area to ensure that it is indeed safe to continue working there. Work continues only when everyone is satisfied as to the safety of their areas.

“It was a simple idea, but it has been and is still very successful, the sharp decrease in fall of ground accidents and the positive response from our work force demonstrates this success,” says Target's Chief Safety Officer, Danie Botha.

Weight was added to the `Whistle your way to safety´ campaign through several new underground infrastructure additions, including the installation of bed separation units and closure metres in highlighted areas. Safety face nets were also installed in January on all the panels in the conventional stoping section of the mine, where increased seismicity has been particularly prevalent and have already made a significant difference. The nets contain rock behind them in the event of a rock burst and thereby protect those working on that face.

Several training initiatives designed to complement the other FOG risk mitigation measures, as well as to address occupational risks in general, were also introduced at Target during the year.

A total of 1 100 employees underwent a Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) training course conducted by an external consultant, and 850 conventional mining and underground service employees completed a course in basic strata control. The latter included the basic principles of rock engineering and theoretical and practical components on face net installation.

An advanced strata control course was conducted for employees working in trackless environments with larger excavations and was completed by 106 employees.

A total of 164 employees were also elected as health and safety representatives and trained according to the standards of the Mining Qualifications Authority.

Danie comments, “A more competent and better trained workforce means definite improvements in health and safety conditions and statistics, cost savings and ultimately an improved company image. These training initiatives will be followed up on a refresher basis every year and we are definitely looking forward to seeing more positive results from them as we go forward, looking particularly at sustaining the decrease in falls of ground.”