BHP chairman Ken MacKenzie has stressed the company’s focus on safety in his address to the company’s AGM, but says it has been unable to pinpoint the cause of a recent fatal accident in Central Queensland.
Allan Houston, 49, died when the dozer he was operating rolled at BMA’s Saraji Mine in December.
“For the first time in 15 years, we were not able to determine the definitive cause,” Mr MacKenzie said.
‘However, our investigation identified a number of improvement areas and work is underway to implement these.
“Last financial year, our Total Recordable Injury Frequency rose slightly to 4.7 per million hours worked. However, we reduced the rate of events with the potential to cause a fatality by 18 per cent, which is a critical indicator of future safety performance.
“We are encouraged by this, but we know there is still much more work to do.”
Culture of ‘chronic unease’
Chief executive officer Andrew Mackenzie outlined the company’s progress against its four safety priorities.
“One, we launched the contractor management framework to give all contractors the same access to safety tools and processes as our employees,” he said.
“Two, our leaders spent more time in the field coaching as part of the Field Leadership program which institutionalises these practices
“Three, we launched a new software solution tailored to our requirements by our Technology team. This is a common platform to gather and analyse safety data across the company, accessible and user friendly to employees and contractors, which builds on our leadership position in enterprise-wide systems.
“Lastly, we did more work to create a culture of chronic unease. This delivers a heightened safety awareness which urges us all to question assumptions around safety and make sure all issues are addressed quickly.”
Mr Mackenzie also reported the work of BHP’s Tailings Taskforce, established after the catastrophic collapse of Vale’s Brumadinho tailings dam in Brazil.
Immediate focus areas included actions to reduce the consequences and likelihood of dam failure, he said.
“We have removed significant numbers of people who worked in closest proximity to dams,” he said.
“And we have built new standalone structures or buttressed existing structures, and conducted more rigorous drills, to protect those whose duties require them to remain in the general vicinity. And we have applied technology to eliminate tailings altogether.”