The health of our people and communities is of great importance to us. To keep our people healthy we focus on managing health risk and fitness for work. Our operations also undertake wellness initiatives in consideration of our people’s well-being.
Potential health risks at our workplace include potential exposure to carcinogenic substances (silica, diesel particulate matter, nickel, and coal tar pitch volatiles), other airborne contaminants (coal dust, fluoride, lead and manganese dust) and potential exposure to noise. Musculoskeletal disease (MSD) and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) remain the most commonly reported occupational illnesses by our workers.
Our risk management process is applied at all of our operations and includes a comprehensive evaluation of exposure risk. Where possible, we implement controls at the project design and equipment selection stages to prevent the introduction of new hazards. We prioritise implementation of exposure controls to manage health risks and our operations maintain, monitor and verify the effectiveness of exposure controls.
We set internal Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) for our most prominent potentially harmful agents, and our operations are required to prevent exposure exceeding South32 and legislated OELs. If airborne levels exceed an OEL, respiratory protective equipment is mandated for those affected and we complete fit-testing to ensure the protection is adequate. Our continued focus on reducing the number of people exposed above OELs, by controlling emissions at the source has proven effective.
We have Fit for Work programs across all operations to ensure our people are physically and mentally able to perform their work tasks and do not adversely impact their own, or their co-workers’, health and safety.
Our Fit for Work programs include medical assessment, fatigue management and risk-based drug and alcohol programs. Risk-based medical assessments evaluate potential risks with the individual, the environment and their role. Interventions such as functional assessments are used to further define physical capability to safely perform tasks, and can identify a need for physical rehabilitation or task redesign.
Our fatigue management plans and risk-based drug and alcohol programs are designed to minimise health impacts to our people through risk mitigation and reduce the likelihood of incidents, injury and illness at our operations.
Supporting healthy communities
Our operations are located within or near local communities. We seek to understand and manage activities that potentially affect community health and implement programs that aim to mitigate these health impacts. This includes looking at ways to manage dust, noise and waste to reduce our impact on communities. If issues do arise, there is a process in place for community members to report concerns and we work with them to address these concerns. Further detail is available in our Communities and Society report
We are committed to helping reduce the occurrence of communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in our local communities, as well as also providing support for other diseases such as Machado-Joseph Disease. Our operations collaborate with relevant government, non-government and community-based organisations to promote good health and hygiene practices to reduce disease.
We recognise that a person’s well-being can be related to factors both internal and external to the workplace. We undertake initiatives to help support our people to manage their own health and well-being so that when they are at work they can be present, alert and engaged. We provide all employees and their family members access to external employee assistance providers. These services support, guide and coach people to manage their own well-being. Mental health awareness and improvement projects are periodically undertaken by operations.