Sustainability Blog

Focus on: Zero Injury rate

Polyus Group implements the Golden safety rules across all its operations

In recent years, the industrial injury rate in the Magadan region has fallen. In 2009, a total of 30 severe industrial accidents were registered at the regional enterprises; in 2018 this indicator had fallen to 24. Nevertheless, industrial accidents can cause occupation-related injuries and disabilities, and can be fatal for personnel: up to ten people die every year at enterprises across the region.

What is a zero injury rate?

Reducing the death and injury rate connected to occupational accidents and diseases is one of the key objectives of Russia’s demographic policy to 2025. The Magadan regional government is currently implementing a programme to improve labour and safety conditions. One of its goals is to introduce programmes to achieve a zero injury rate at the enterprises in the region, based on the seven golden rules of the Vision Zero (or Zero Injury rate) concept.

The ISSA’s Vision Zero (Zero Injury rate) is a complete rewrite of prevention measures combining three areas — safety, health and wellbeing.

ISSA’s seven golden rules help employers to reduce occupational injury and disease rates. Vision Zero is flexible and can be applied to any workplace, enterprise or industry.

Focus on vision zero

In December 2017, Russia’s labor ministry officially partnered with the global Vision Zero campaign. Over 2,000 Russian enterprises have joined the campaign since its launch, including JSC Polyus Magadan, a Polyus Group company. We spoke to the team at Polyus Magadan on how the company is putting the zero injury rate programme into practice and what the first results of the new approach to safety management are.

Providing our employees with a safe and healthy working environment is one of the key priorities of Polyus’ sustainable development and a cornerstone of our corporate strategy. Having a world-class safety culture is fundamental for our entire HSE management system. Our main priorities for HSE development are the areas of safety culture, HSE training, health protection, road traffic safety and preparing for emergency situations. We are constantly developing and improving our safety culture.

Never standing still

In order to achieve a zero injury rate, Polyus is constantly refining its approach to HSE management. Gold mining entails high operational risks, so the company is focused on safe labor conditions. One of the company’s priorities is implementing of a risk-oriented approach aimed at mitigating operational risks to prevent incidents.

Over the last few years, Polyus has worked hard to consolidate separate HSE management systems across the Group into one single system. The results of this work were highly praised last year, as the system successfully received certification in accordance with ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 standards. The compliance certificates were awarded to the Krasnoyarsk business unit (Olimpiada and Blagodatnoye), Verninskoye, Kuranakh, Polyus Stroy, Polyus Project, and Polyus Magadan (Natalka).

Dmitry Berezovskiy, Director of Health, Safety and Environment at Polyus Magadan commented:

“Certification in accordance with international standards, in particular ISO 45001, gives the company a concrete position on the international market. Within our regulatory framework, our safety culture involves various aspects: commitment from top management, leadership responsibility, policies and principles, goals and programs, procedures and standards, contractor management, and introducing monitoring and audits. Reviewing all of these elements demonstrates a mature safety culture.”

Leading by personal example

Peer leadership and the commitment of employees at all levels towards safety is a key element of the integrated HSE management system, which applies particularly to managers, since management sets the tone at the top and provides motivation. A corporate standard on Leadership in HSE for management at every level, based on clear and measurable instructions, was drawn up and rolled out. Top and mid-level managers were the first employees to adhere to these standards. In 2019, the standard was scaled up and applied to line managers.

Pavel Vorsin, Managing Director of Polyus Magadan, understands how important the tone at the top is for employees:

All managers are accountable for improving health and safety conditions at the facilities under their responsibility in calling for greater safety compliance at work. We believe that every industrial accident can be prevented and we seek to provide a working environment which will ensure the health and safety of all company employees and contractors in the performance of their everyday duties.

The seven golden safety rules

To improve industrial safety, much attention is afforded to implementing a risk-oriented approach as part of the daily routine as well as developing our safety culture. Polyus Group implements the Golden safety rules across all its operations. To achieve its primary objective, a zero injury rate, the company promotes zero tolerance towards any non-compliance with HSE standards across all brownfield and greenfield operations.

At work, Polyus employees follow the seven “I Always Do” rules:

  • Wearing a seatbelt and not using a cell phone when in motion;
  • Using appropriate personal protection equipment;
  • Following requirements of policy, standards and procedures;
  • Regularly completing all corporate trainings and having all necessary work permits;
  • Assessing all potential risks before beginning work;
  • Stop working if you witness any HSE noncompliance and reporting hazardous situations;
  • Checking contractors’ skills and permits.

These are the Golden safety rules to be followed by each employee.

Safety as a part of corporate culture

Preventing occupational injuries is an integral part of promoting safety culture and providing decent labor conditions at Polyus. In 2018, the Company decreased its Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) by 18% (from 0.11 in 2017 to 0.09 in 2018), showing how the safety level improved at Polyus operations. At Polyus Magadan (Natalka), LTIFR stood at 0.46 in 2018 (following ramp-up and 25% headcount increase); in 9M 2019 the LTIFR rate stood at 0.25.

Our major priority for Natalka, Polyus’ newest mine, is ensuring that corporate training and health protection is widely understood by all employees. This includes training under the corporate program on safety culture and injury prevention, first aid assistants and training in driving safely.

A training facility for working at height was procured and installed. The mine has an auxiliary mine rescue team, which undergoes regular trainings, including emergency response drills at hazardous industrial facilities.

Besides increasing its production volumes, Natalka is improving its operational structure and creating new jobs, as well as assessing that labor conditions are in accordance with legal requirements. These results are used to set employee compensations and benefits for harmful labor conditions as well as to mitigate the impact of harmful industrial factors on the health of employees.

Say no to diseases

Introducing a proactive approach to health protection and preventing occupational diseases is an HSE priority.

To improve the quality of medical aid at Natalka, we procured and installed six electronic medical check-up modules, and carry out regular medical examinations in screening groups. We have programmes for a Healthy Heart, Men’s Health, and Women’s Health. Our flu vaccination programme has shown good results, preventing outbreaks on the mine site.

Raising awareness is crucial for developing safety culture: there are information boards with regulations and updates in every department at Polyus Magadan. Polyus regularly holds corporate contests for best production performance and, irrespective of job specifics, each contest category includes theoretical questions on the Golden safety rules and the basics of industrial safety. On World Labor Day Polyus held a quiz on HSE practices.

Our target is zero

An interim safety audit of the Natalka mine was completed in July. Recommendations provided by an independent auditor will be used to prepare a final audit of the site in December 2019.

Vladlen Brik, Head of Health and Safety, Polyus Magadan:

The interim audit is a proxy for understanding our progress in terms of the baseline audit; it is akin to a litmus test for indicating where we are at the moment. It is important for us to undertake consecutive organizational measures now in order to achieve our target and improve our safety culture. It is crucial that activities resulting in high health and safety engagement rates should be streamlined. Indeed, the term “safety culture” implies the safe conditions of all the processes taking place within the mine. Every employee at Natalka should make working safely a personal priority — this will be the main accomplishment of our joint efforts aimed at achieving our objectives.

Rolling out the zero injury rate concept, a systematic approach to operational HSE management, the timely recognition of workplace hazards, improving labor conditions and the respective reduction of our occupational injury rate will bring down material and human losses. It is important however to keep in mind our priorities in terms of “zero”: our primary goal is not an improved efficiency rate, but striving towards achieving zero fatalities and disabling injuries resulting from occupational injuries.

Achieving a zero injury rate is our intention, and one of the Company’s strategic goals.

Facts and figures

According to the Public labor inspection, 20 people sustained severe injuries and 10 employees died in 2017 in the Magadan region, these rates stood at 17 and 7 people respectively in 2018.

Organizational issues (poor work organization, deficient staff safety training) and the human factor (safety requirements and workplace discipline violation by staff) account for 68.1% of total severe occupational accidents in 2018 in Russia, Ekaterina Kuznetsova, Deputy Director of the Health and safety research center of Russia’s labor ministry, said when speaking at the All-Russian conference on labor law improvement held on 19-20 September 2019 in Crimea. 6.5% of severe accidents were caused by process and technical factors.

Prepared by the Labor and Social Policy Ministry of the Magadan region
Minister Sergey Kucherenko

Source: Magadanskaya pravda