Workplace fatalities across many high-risk industries have seen a downward trajectory in recent years as companies strive for continuous improvements in safety.
One very effective way to prevent serious incidents is by companies sharing their information and knowledge with other organisations operating in the same sector. This is particularly important in traditionally high-risk industries such as mining, construction and transportation.
Knowledge sharing allows companies to learn from the experiences of their industry peers. Overall, sharing best practice standards, incident reporting and other critical risk management information makes the industry safer for everyone.
George Coetzee is Group Vice President, Safety with global gold mining company, AngloGold Ashanti, and a long-time advocate of knowledge sharing and the benefits it brings to the mining industry.
He spoke with Jincom about the positive impact that information-exchange and knowledge sharing can have on companies’ environmental, health and safety performance and on reducing workplace serious incidents and fatalities.
George, who also chairs the International Council on Mining and Metals safety working group, said the Council’s member companies are encouraged to share their knowledge, including learnings from incidents.
He is among other industry leaders who have been pushing for more knowledge sharing within mining so when he heard of the International Mining Safety (IMS) Hub, he immediately recognised its potential benefits.
AngloGold Ashanti is one of the founding partners of the IMS Hub, an online repository of industry-related and endorsed, simplified visual resources.
He describes the impact of sharing good practice HSE tools. “The way that Jincom is packaging it, it’s so visual, the illustrations are so professional, and the companies can see one another's critical controls and documents.”
“If you ask anybody, what do you think of the material, they say this is ‘wow – it’s really amazing.’"
Some companies may be wary about sharing material due to legal and privacy concerns, however, George believes there are ways to “sanitise” information so that learnings can be shared without compromising confidentiality or disclosing sensitive information.
George points out that incident sharing on the IMS Hub is only a very small proportion of the tools and most of the power of the Hub comes from the “proactive” tools including critical controls and visual standards.
Another advantage of a collaborative platform like the IMS Hub is it makes the safety materials more consistent in their approach.
While the ICMM safety group’s approach has been “reasonably successful” at manager and supervisor levels, George acknowledges that it’s been challenging to reach the operator level because of the text-heavy nature of the materials.
Simple visual tools enable critical safety information to be disseminated widely at all levels of an organisation. “It's so easy to comprehend and so easy to understand and articulate because one of the challenges that we have is to get that messaging down to the operator level.”
The IMS Hub has developed a toolkit to communicate the critical safety information at all levels: for example, a visual technical standard for managers, toolbox talks for supervisors and key message posters for operators.
Additionally, simple visual tools that are easy to understand and implement empower individuals and teams to take ownership of safety controls.
"The more companies we can get to join the Hub, the better for the industry as a collective."
The development of the IMS Hub has come at an opportune time for AngloGold Ashanti as the company reviews its safety strategy. George sees the Hub as becoming an industry-wide platform. “I'll continue to push that because the more companies we can get to join the Hub, the better for the industry as a collective.”
He sees the Hub as a force for the greater good of all. “The more of these smaller companies, we can pull in here [the Hub], the better off, I think, the industry will be in the long term.”
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