Since its establishment nine years ago, contract crushing and mining specialist African Mining and Crushing has perfected its ability to deliver optimal production efficiently and cost-effectively.
Doing so safely is of equal importance to the company whose track record to date boasts zero fatalities.
“Operating safely is not just about compliance for African Mining and Crushing, it is an internal philosophy and non-negotiable requirement designed and implemented to protect our most important asset – our employees.
“And because our cultural ethos values our staff as we would our own family members, we take their safety personally and are therefore naturally motivated by more than numbers and records to keep them safe,” says CEO Warwick Hughes.
This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 9 2018
Demonstrating this, African Mining and Crushing safety manager Trevor Recchia notes that Hughes and his management team are not just ‘talking the talk’ but ‘walking the walk’.
“Safety starts at the top and filters down throughout the company and is highly successful in motivating our workforce to follow suit.”
And while safety is the driving force behind African Mining and Crushing’s day-to-day modus operandi, it has also become the precursor to optimised production.
Hughes and Recchia consider African Mining and Crushing personnel as the biggest asset in the company, above its equipment.
“They are the driving force behind what we do and our production delivery so keeping them safe and healthy is our priority,” Recchia adds.
Actions speak louder than words
Encouraging and motivating staff to work safely is only one component of running a safe business. Action must support theory and in this regard, African Mining and Crushing demonstrates equal success.
“Mining is a high-risk business and we must cater to this reality, which starts with education and training and the development and implementation of safety systems and procedures that operate as the backbone of every movement on site.
“We have over the years refined our systems, which were not created to be filed away in a cupboard. We are living and enforcing them.”
When considering African Mining and Crushing’s safety challenges, working with large rocks, moving components, heavy-duty crushing equipment and trackless mobile machines pose the greatest risk and are traditionally responsible for fatalities in the mining sector.
To minimise these specific risks, African Mining and Crushing not only complies with legislation in terms of how to operate the machinery but has incorporated additional safety measures to reduce safety risks further.
Reviewing the company’s safety policy more closely, Recchia notes that effective training is delivered through experts, who in addition to safety must also understand the challenges in mining and more specifically, the specific challenges associated with African Mining and Crushing’s line of work.
Another major contributor to the company’s safety success is taking training beyond the boardroom.
A buddy system enables new recruits to gain on-site experience in their specific field of work and in so doing learn how to convert the theory taught during their induction process into practice.
“This is a highly effective training mechanism, particularly in Africa where competency levels may be lower in more remote locations. Transferring knowledge and skills by pairing a local recruit with an experienced expatriate further drives sustainability in the sector through upskilling,” Recchia points out.
In support of its top-down approach to safety, African Mining and Crushing allocates at least one safety officer to each site it is working on, and even two if possible – regardless of location.
A dedicated safety officer is not only there to enforce safety procedures but plays an active role on the site – such as being present during the process of re-starting a machine or plant following a plant shutdown or equipment breakdown.
“Our safety officers ensure we never compromise on safety, even under stress or in an emergency,” Hughes reiterates.
Recchia himself, although in charge of safety across the board at African Mining and Crushing, takes safety seriously and visits every site regularly (at least every three months) to conduct full safety assessments and audits.
Proof in numbers
In addition to a zero-fatality record, African Mining and Crushing’s lost-time injury (LTI) frequency rate is below the industry average, although Hughes and Recchia remain devoted to delivering an injury free company as well.
In July this year African Mining and Crushing recorded an LTI frequency rate for 2018 to date of 0.89 – determined per every 200 000 man-hours worked.
This is higher than the company’s lowest record (since 2012) of 0.43 in 2014 but considerably lower than 2016 and 2017’s average of 1.63 and 1.34 which Recchia notes was largely the result of twisted ankles.
Regardless, they have implemented strategies to combat the rise in the LTI frequency rate at the time and have managed to consistently lower the frequency rate back down again.
“Our work hour rate has also increased over the years which also plays a role in our overall LTI rate.”
African Mining and Crushing believes in reporting any and all incidents and accidents, irrespective of the severity, in order to investigate the causes and implement corrective actions, thereby striving towards zero harm.
“Regardless of the number of hours we work, we believe we can achieve an injury-free environment and believe we can get there by fully living through our systems, policies and education.”
The importance of a healthy workforce
A safe workforce is a healthy workforce – so African Mining and Crushing places equal emphasis on ensuring the health of its workers is prioritised, as well as their safety.
Annual screening is compulsory – for everyone, including Hughes.
Africa again offers additional challenges around health management with diseases including Ebola, Malaria and typhoid requiring close monitoring.
“We always ensure we have access to emergency response medical teams and have rapid extraction medical coverage for our employees as well. But we do consider prevention better than cure.
“This means providing medication to prevent disease and beyond this fogging to keep mosquitos at bay. Each area we work in is individually assessed for potential risks, and protocols are then implemented to mitigate these risks.”
African Mining and Crushing is undoubtedly not only passionate about delivering optimal and cost-effective production output, but is equally committed to doing so safely – ultimately contributing to the success of its clients.