How GGML competes with European, American countries in safety, health at workplace

AT Geita Gold Mining Limited (GGML), safety is the company’s most important values, which has enabled it change the culture of all employees to work according to health and safety principles required and live with them as normal daily practices.

This is evident as they hold a slew of accolades in recognition of AngloGold Ashanti’s Tanzania operation commitment to safety and health at workplace. That made it scoop and hold on to the Global Safety Award from 2019 to 2022, ahead of AngloGold Ashanti’s other operations in Australia, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, and Ghana.

“We have proven that regardless of where you are in the world, you can work to internationally recognised standards,” says Simon Shayo, Vice-President of Sustainability for AngloGold Ashanti in Tanzania and Ghana.

Mr Shayo cited the company’s ability to compete with parent company AngloGold Ashanti’s other mines in Australia, Brazil, the United States, Ghana and elsewhere in the world and lead the way in safety and health at workplace, saying: “The mine’s workforce, which is 98 per cent Tanzanians, has reached a level with its workplace safety habits and culture where it can compete with people in Australia and elsewhere. As a mine in Tanzania, we want to continue to show that we can be productive anywhere in the world if we maintain the acceptable standards.”

This unbroken string of accolades for the company’s safety record cannot be attributed to just one or two individuals.

In recognition also is Dr Kiva Mvungi, Senior Manager of Health, Safety, Environment, and Training at GGML, who says: “It is due to the efforts of employees, contractors, and management who uphold one of AngloGold Ashanti’s core values, safety.

Something they did differently from their counterparts, he says, was that they changed the dissemination of information and the flow of communication from managers to workers; instead they set up a system so that the communication system goes from workers to managers.

“When we work, employees and contractors tell us what is safe and what is not, or how they would like it to be done, and we just add other factors to make sure the work is done safely and professionally,” he says.

“Since the system has been used to listening to staff and contractors on the ground, there have been many successes,” he says. He cites as an example that there have been no workplace fatalities for more than 10 years, and no employee has been injured to the point of being unable to come to work for more than five years. Similarly, no employee at GGML has been injured at workplace for more than four years.

“Each department has representatives in place to assist us with quality management update in the areas of health, safety, and the environment (HSE). These representatives are like Parliamentarians, they represent the workers, because what they see is not working; they provide information to improve safety in our areas.”

He says that despite the fact that GGML is recognised, visionary, and award-winning within AngloGold Ashanti’s global operations, both here in the country and by the Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA), the National Environmental and Conservation Management Council (NEMC), and other HSE institutions, commendations and awards attest to the company’s commitment to health, safety, environment, and training.

Dr Mvungi says GGML has laid a solid foundation for safety while it’s common for companies to focus on reducing costs. He says GGML’s investment in safety means that when employees work safely, production costs are reduced and production is increased as a result. He gives an example, saying “If you do not work safely, cars and machines can break down and people can get hurt. All these problems can interrupt the continuity of production.”

The safety culture of the GGML workforce is not limited to the workplace, but permeates all aspects of GGML employees’ lives outside of the mine. “For example, we pay attention to safety in our homes, on the roads we travel, when we travel abroad, in the regions, and other places,” he says.

Isaac Senya, Senior Safety Manager at Geita Gold Mine, says: “Like all other AngloGold Ashanti operations, Geita Gold Mine places great emphasis on safety and follows certain criterias. Foremost among these is the health and safety system known as the System Practice Protocol. Geita Gold Mine has been able to improve this SPP and achieve a rating of 96.

This system complies with the international standard ISO 45001. Adherence to these criteria has helped people come to work and go home without occupational accidents.” He continues, “Our parent company AngloGold Ashanti has adopted a long-term strategy in relation to the various health and safety regulations and by 2030, there should not be a single incident of anyone being injured at work.”

Mr Senya says the implementation of critical controls to identify hazards and the analysis of these risks in the workplace hazard and risk assessment, when done well, directly contributes to a culture of safety and health that is constantly improving and good, and the emphasis is that if you are safe at the mine, you should be safe in other aspects of your life and not just in the workplace to ensure that employees and their families are always safe.

Geita Gold Mine refuses to rest on its laurels and constantly reviews critical controls for the major hazards to ensure they are known in relation to employees’ job role. Every employee must be aware of these critical controls for the major hazards which cover all areas of operation: Operating mobile equipment, working with electricity, using pressurised equipment and handling explosives. “We will all continue to improve and maintain this value of health and safety as our first value and continue to innovate.”

How workers talk about victory

One of the employees of the Health, Safety, Environment, and Training Department at GGML, Dr Subira Joseph, who has been with the company for more than 10 years as a medical doctor at the company’s-GGML Health Centre as well as Josephine Kimambo, an Environmental Engineer, says the successive awards have shown them that they work in a safe space and environment. It would be safe even without the award, but I have also seen that the safety, health, and environment departments work really well with the people.

“People’s involvement is good; they report risks, and the information needs to be provided quickly to avoid hazards. If the information is not provided on time, the risks are high, so people pay attention to safety and the environment. This award makes me happy and proud to work in this department,” says Josephine.

Josephine is also supported by the Underground Mining Division’s Safety Superintendent, Melxedeck Mulokozi, who has worked for GGML for over 14 years. He says winning the Global Safety Award among all of AngloGold Ashanti’s worldwide operations gives him great comfort, as he has since shown that winning it was not by accident.

He says they are shaping workplace safety to prevail and benefit the nation in the years to come because GGML will serve as a mirror for others to learn.

“Safety is a personal behaviour; it has to be built by the individual, with training and management, and the individual has to look at life as if it were a luxury. If you are injured, the person affected is not the neighbour, nor the government, but you and your dependents, so it is an individual matter. All the systems that have been put in place are for the purpose of keeping a person or an individual safe,” he says.

Deane Macpherson, Vice President for Safety and Health, Ghana Tanzania Business Unit, said of GGML capturing the AGA Global Safety Award for 2022, “Receiving this award once is an outstanding achievement in itself, but to receive it four times in succession is an unprecedented accomplishment and acknowledges the commitment and focus given to safety at Geita,” adding that: “I’m proud to be associated with an operation such as yours. Please continue with the hard work aimed at eliminating injury and harm in our workplaces.”

Related Articles

Back to top button