Diversified resources group Exxaro Resources held a Safety Summit on March 18 convened by CEO Sipho Nkosi and involving its stakeholders to examine and prioritise safety improvement interventions and management systems to position the group to improve its safety performance. “The summit sets a new momentum for safety initiatives within the group, with action plans formulated and a public commitment from role players to support the group’s safety ambitions,” said Nkosi. “It raises the profile and seriousness of safety within the group and provides an opportunity to react to the outcome of the Presidential safety audits conducted last year, allowing us to refine and improve our practices.”The summit further supports the Chamber of Mines’ Mining Occupational Safety and Health best practice system which seeks to promote consistency in the application of safety standards across the mining industry and encourages zero tolerance for safety violations.Notwithstanding Exxaro’s comprehensive safety programmes, in 2008 the group recorded what it says is “a disappointing safety performance. The lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) per 200,000 man-hours worked in 2008 was 0,39 against a target of 0,21 and compared to 0,36 in 2007. The group also recorded five fatalities in 2008.”“This performance is unacceptable. While Exxaro does have some business units that achieved outstanding safety results, overall the group is finding it challenging to make significant improvements on safety performance. We acknowledge that a breakthrough is needed to meet our goal of achieving a 30% per annum overall safety improvement and we expect today’s summit and follow-on activities to support this,” said Nkosi.Feeding into the initiative are several internal interventions including a diagnosis of safety challenges, stakeholder engagement to identify problem areas and an analysis of safety issues through the spectrum of group businesses.To date Exxaro has adopted an aggressive, multi-pronged approach spanning, among others, enhanced safety awareness and preventive programs, a strong focus on hazard identification and visible felt leadership. The ultimate goal is an injury-free workplace.Exxaro achieved an average score of 73.4% in the Presidential safety audits, exceeding the average DME scores of 69.8% for coal mines and 66% for all mines. “While it is worth noting that our performance surpassed many peers, it highlights the considerable gaps that need to be closed to achieve full marks in this area,” said Nkosi.Nkosi was among the Chamber of Mines-sanctioned meeting of mining company chief executives who, in August 2008, deliberated on sustainable ways in which a culture of safety could be strengthened and how working environments could be made safer. Endorsing the target of zero harm and the milestones agreed with tripartite partners to achieve this objective, the participants also acknowledged that safety is a core value that must always take precedence over production.The Exxaro safety summit was attended by Exxaro management with inputs and support from the Chamber of Mines, Department of Minerals and Energy and labour unions, namely the National Union of Mineworkers, Solidarity and United Association of South Africa.