Towards a goal of 'Zero Harm'

Central to Palabora's safety ethos is the commitment to making safety 'personal' by putting "safety at the heart of our being". Safety can only be heartfelt if each employee is acutely aware of their own and others' safety in all actions and interactions; if we ensure personal distractions are eliminated from the work context and resolve personal problems as best possible (with professional assistance if needed). Employees are encouraged to safeguard their physical health and to keep up their strength by mitigating fatigue in the workplace, avoiding short-cuts and continuously improving on their skills training.

We firmly believe that all incidents, occupational injuries and illnesses can be prevented. As stated in Palabora's Safety and Health Policy: "All injuries and occupational illnesses are preventable".

Despite a work environment which presents inherent safety hazards and risks, we believe that our goal of "zero harm" is entirely achievable. It requires a safety mind-set, vigilant action and a genuine care for our own wellbeing as well as that of our colleagues, community and environment. It is our collective responsibility to journey safely into the future as accountable and caring individuals with keen awareness of both the positive and negative impacts of our actions.

Palabora's Safety Standards

Palabora is located directly adjacent to the world-renowned eco-tourism attraction, the Kruger National Park. Given this unique geographical positioning, we have initiated several onsite wildlife management and cultural heritage programmes as part of our ongoing sustainability drive.

Additionally, we are working diligently to minimise the effects of our operations on the environment, such as our sulphur dioxide emissions, greenhouse gases, dust and water pollution - through ongoing operational efficiency improvements, the maintenance of ageing equipment and advances in our logistics management.

As the country's only producer of refined copper, we have the capacity and responsibility to create a business that is socially innovative, ecologically aware and restorative in behaviour.

Palabora's Safety Standards framework

Palabora's Safety Standards framework consists of various safety planning initiatives including a formal Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA); pre-work assessments; safety audits; safety interactions and other safety initiatives.

Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment
The Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) procedure requires pre-work planning before major activity starts. Before commencing any major task, the entire work team engages in careful planning and time is allocated for the team to identify any potential hazards, assess the risks and identify and implement controls to mitigate the risks.

Pre-work assessments
In addition to the formalised HIRA process, a less formal pre-work assessment is performed named "Xiya-Xiya Hlokomela", meaning "be alert, be alert, take care". The purpose of the assessment is to help the work team in identifying hazards even for simple tasks and also to anticipate differences in procedures when change occurs.  It is the last ‘Go / No Go’ check before the commencing of work to ensure everything is safe to proceed.

Visible Felt Leadership Engagements
Palabora leaders are required to perform regular Visible Felt Leadership (VFL) engagements in their area(s) of responsibility. During these VFL engagements, time is taken to observe how employees perform certain tasks. Safe acts are highlighted and encouraged whilst unsafe acts are pointed out and discouraged. These engagements provide a platform for the teams to share their constraints and challenges with working safely and productively, as well as ongoing coaching sessions to encourage good safety practices and eliminate unsafe acts and conditions from the workplace.

Safety campaigns and other safety initiatives

In addition to a formalised health and safety framework, the company has initiated several safety campaigns and initiatives in pursuit of its goal towards 'Zero harm', including:

  • Identification and development of the PMC Fatal Risk Protocols
  • A toolkit for supervisors and senior leadership explaining our basic safety system framework and providing guidance on the consistent application of on-site safety requirements.
  • Improved training media to enhance employees' understanding of the safety system and to help them comply with safe practices in the workplace.
  • A written guide for supervisors with constructive ideas on how to utilise their time during a shift and specifically, how to spend more quality time on safety with their teams.
  • The establishment of a 'Hazard Park' aimed at honing employees' skill to recognize safety hazards in the workplace.
  • The increased use of pictorial representation in our training materials to facilitate better understanding of concepts where language may be a barrier.

Personalising safety

We expect each employee to personalise safety. This is achieved practically by encouraging the following personal behaviours among employees:

  • Every employee needs to work safely and intervene where necessary and others do not.
  • Leaders need to be accountable for their team's safety performance.
  • Leaders need to be empowered to ensure safe working practices in their areas.
  • Leaders need to demonstrate that they care.
  • Leaders need to live the 'vision' of "Zero harm" and be role models.
  • Leaders need to care for their employees' wellbeing.
  • Leaders need to empower employees to stop work when conditions become unsafe.