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Safety as a personal priority: audit of Natalka’s safety culture

20 July 2019
Safety as a personal priority: audit of Natalka’s safety culture

Polyus has completed an interim audit of the safety culture at the Natalka mine. The audit was conducted by the British Standards Institution (BSI). The recommendations obtained from this exercise will form the blueprint for preparations for the mine’s final audit, which is due to take place at the year-end.

Safety is everyone’s business

The BSI began its audit with a visit to a fire unit at the Natalka site. The mine rescue brigade gave an overview of the guidelines for using self-rescuing devices and primary fire-fighting equipment as well as the standard emergency procedures related to localizing incidents and response action plans.

At the kick-off audit meeting between the BSI representatives and the heads of the Natalka mine departments, Pavel Vorsin, Managing Director of Polyus Magadan, stressed the importance of employee engagement for safety culture:

“It is the responsibility of all managers to bring enhancing health and safety at the facilities under their scope of work in promoting strict compliance with safety guidelines. As our scores according to the BSI audit are rising steadily, we are increasingly raising our standards, and therefore expect a higher assessment rate.”

Dmitry Berezovsky, HSE Director at Polyus Magadan, presented the safety culture development concept for the Natalka mine. He gave examples of programmes that have already been fully implemented and initiatives, as well as those requiring updates and improvements. In his view, audits result in recommendations that give auditees the opportunity to revise their goals and available resources:

In his view, audits result in recommendations that give auditees the opportunity to revise their goals and available resources:

“Polyus has received certification in line with international standards; in particular we have been certified by ISO 45001. This demonstrates the company’s level of business maturity, whereas the audit brings the opportunity to evaluate how we can develop further. The BSI audit is an audit of safety culture. A framework for safety culture involves various aspects: commitment from top management, responsibility of leadership, introduction of goals and programmes for implementation. Analysis of all these elements demonstrates the level of safety culture within the business.”

The HSE team presented a health and safety report providing data on medical checks, vaccinations, disease rates and number of visits to first-aid rooms. The HR team focused its presentation on social activities, e.g. catering, accommodation, leisure and sports activities for the employees. Afterwards, a BSI representative visited a sports centre at Omchak shift camp, a first-aid room and a classroom at the contractors shift camp with a number of our HSE specialists.

Analysis for potential improvements

The second day of the audit was focused on pit operations. A BSI auditor received an overview of road safety, mining operations as well as of changes in pit operations since the introduction of the Wenko mining fleet automated control system.

Pit operators related employee mentorship and incentives programmes. After the regulatory review, the next step on the audit checklist was a visit to the pit.

On the same day, a BSI representative met with the management teams of Polyus Stroy and Polyus Logistics and their HSE teams. HSE regulations and the status of HSE programmes were reviewed during site visits.

BSI representatives spent the final day of the safety culture audit at the Natalka mine visiting Mill 1 and its boiler room. A BSI expert, accompanied by Dmitry Berezovsky, HSE director, visited production sites and was made aware of the information boards and regulations when talking to employees.

The final stage of the audit was a presentation on road safety drafted by the Polyus Magadan HSE team.

Alexander Kruchinin, a BSI representative, said:

“The main task of the interim audit is not an examination; it is primarily aimed at reviewing programmes and resources, and the business’ capability to achieve the mine’s main goals for 2019. We always provide our main recommendations during the final audit in November. Firstly, we verify all documents, update them and align the programmes with the communication plan, and of course, we continue engaging with the people. We started with the top managers, now we continue work directly with the deputy managing director of Polyus Magadan and will continue to de-escalate the information to all employees. This is a task for the next 2-3 years.”

The interim audit will produce some recommendations outlining key areas for further HSE development.

Vladlen Brin, Head of Health and Safety Department at Polyus Magadan, commented:

“The interim audit is an opportunity for us to mark our progress against the baseline audit and develop further; it is akin to a litmus test indicating where we are right now. It is important for us to consistently undertake organizational measures to achieve our targets and improve our overall safety culture. Streamlining these activities is crucial, and results in higher rates of health and safety engagement. After all, “safety culture” implies safety in terms of all processes taking place within the business. Occupational safety should be a personal priority at the forefront of everyone’s minds at the Natalka mine. That will be the greatest result of our combined efforts.”