Promoting the safety, health and wellbeing of employees and their families, contractors and the communities in which we operate underpins our vision and strategy, and is aimed at improving their quality of life. A healthier workforce is also clearly an advantage to our business: employees who are fit to work at their full potential will report fewer absences owing to sickness or ill health.
Our health programmes address the regulatory components of occupational illnesses and their management and reporting, as well as public health issues, namely HIV/AIDS and TB. Results from recent community voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) have indicated 20% of HIV tests were positive within the GLC.
We have to understand what affects employee health, particularly when this is related to work attendance or performance, and have undertaken research on this matter over the past two years. It was established that a combination of internal and external factors cause absenteeism, including family problems, work stress and health issues. We are working towards understanding how these all affect each other and are addressing them holistically. Since our employees are an integral part of the communities, we commissioned a further study on the health status of the communities in the GLC.
CASE STUDY: GLC health survey
In 2006, we commissioned research on the health status of the GLC. The survey gave us an accurate understanding of the impact of Lonmin’s activities on the community, and formed the basis of our Community Health Programme. Five years later, we commissioned a review of the survey. Read case study
Our Workplace Health Programmes are aligned with our goal of causing zero harm to people and include not only management and treatment programmes but also prevention programmes. In addition to occupational healthcare, we offer employees (and registered dependants) comprehensive healthcare through our medical services unit, delivering cost-effective quality healthcare and a comprehensive workplace disease management programme. We understand that the promotion of employee safety and health entails an integrated approach involving all stakeholders. We also recognise that our employees live in the communities surrounding our operations and acknowledge that we have a responsibility to design and implement sustainable community health projects - see Partnering with our communities: Community health.
We believe in a partnership approach to employee well-being and apply this at a number of levels:
- In the workplace, Health and Safety Committees are in place and actively involved in issues relating to employee healthcare and well-being. We have an HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis Steering Committee, comprising both management and union representatives, which meets quarterly to review and monitor implementation of our strategy.
- In communities we partner with government and peers in the interests of healthcare delivery. See Partnering with our communities for further details.
- Through our participation in the ICMM Health and Safety working groups and the South African Chamber of Mines’ Health Policy Committee we monitor and benchmark our performance against industry best practice and contribute to national and international knowledge and debate.
Our Health Department is responsible for healthcare delivery, occupational health and hygiene policies, standards, monitoring and auditing. Line management is responsible for maintaining occupational health and hygiene standards in the workplace.
Lonmin offers employees and contractors primary and occupational healthcare services through various on-site facilities. There is a hospital at Marikana with a medical and surgical ward, which conducts minor procedures and has a casualty and out-patients department. In addition to this hospital we have four clinics – two at Marikana, one at Limpopo and one at the PMR – which offer a combination of primary and occupational healthcare services.
If an employee or contractor is injured on the job we will treat them on-site or, if the injury is serious, refer them to a private facility for specialised care. A Lonmin doctor will go to the shaft if there is a critical injury, and when necessary, arrangements are made for patients to be airlifted to a specialised trauma unit. Our healthcare services take responsibility for patient after-care.
In the event of multiple casualties our disaster management plan is activated, mobilising additional staff and ensuring the appropriate level of care of patients through a triage procedure.
Employees are eligible to participate in the Lonmin Medical Scheme but may choose to join an “open” scheme if they feel this would suit them better. All our employees are required to participate in a designated medical aid scheme, even if they do not use the healthcare facilities provided on site. We also require that all contractors and suppliers verify that their employees are on a registered medical aid scheme.
To ensure that healthcare is accessible to more people in the greater community, we encourage employees to register family members as dependants, who then also qualify for Lonmin’s comprehensive healthcare programme. Our vendor registration ensures that contractor employees are provided with a certain minimum level of healthcare support.
Critical areas of focus are:
- occupational health and hygiene;
- community health; and
- TB and HIV/AIDS.
Occupational health and hygiene
Our occupational hygiene initiatives are aimed at reducing the risk of exposure to potentially hazardous conditions in the workplace, to ensure regulatory compliance and to improve workplace conditions by implementing appropriate occupational hygiene programmes. The programmes implemented at operations and mines include the continuous assessment of identified risks and surveys aimed at identifying new hazards and risks.
Noise-induced hearing loss
Noise is identified as a key occupational hygiene risk at Lonmin and regrettably we have seen an increase in the number of new cases of NIHL identified during the year. Refer for the NIHL graph for more details. This can be attributed to equipment still emitting noise levels above 110dB and reluctance of operators to wear hearing protective devices. We looked into this reluctance and found that many employees find the device uncomfortable. Subsequently we have introduced improved hearing protective devices (with higher noise reduction capabilities) and are monitoring the progress with these. We have also introduced education, training and awareness programmes around noise protection. We had set a target to reduce the number of new NIHL cases by a further 10% by 30 September 2012, but we have not achieved this target as our number of new NIHL cases increased by 20%.
Our hearing conservation programme is aimed at reducing the risk of NIHL through:
- engineering controls;
- administrative controls;
- training of staff;
- provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) – including various campaigns to enforce the wearing of PPE; and
- medical surveillance.
Our rock drill silencing programme, which aims to bring the noise levels associated with this equipment to below 110dB, has continued at a cost to the company of R18 million (US$ 2.2 million) during FY2012. Thus far we have issued 2,061 rock drills fitted with silencing equipment, and plan to issue a further 506 rock drills with the silencing equipment.
Other occupational health risks
Various programmes are in place that is aimed at reducing the risk of exposure to potentially hazardous substances in the workplace. Recent occupational hygiene measurement data show significant improvement in employee exposure profiles for specifically lead and sulphur dioxide. Reduced employee exposure to lead and sulphur dioxide is due to the implementation of successful engineering controls.
Exposure to chloroplatinates (Platinum salts) is a potential occupational health risk during the Platinum refining process. Through our association with the International Precious Metals Association’s (IPA) Scientific Task Force we have been involved in research to determine Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL) thresholds for Platinum salts, as well as to determine an adequate Inhalation Reference Concentration (RfC). Zero cases of Platinum Salt Sensitivity have been reported.
No occupational asthma incidents were reported during the year and the number of reported skin allergies has also declined to zero. A baseline vibration study to evaluate compliance with international standards and guidelines for whole body vibration has been completed.
CASE STUDY: Addressing vibration
Increasing industrial mechanisation has created a work environment where vibration is a common phenomenon. Our employees can be exposed to vibration when they come into contact with vehicles, vibrating machinery and certain hand tools. Read case study
The table below provides the rate of occupational disease, including NIHL, during 2012 per 100,000 employees and contractors.
|Rate of occupational disease (per 100,000 employees and contractors)|
|New NIHL cases diagnosed||115|
|NIHL cases compensated||90|
|Platinosis (platinum salt sensitivity)||0|
Physical and functional work capacity testing
Another area of progress has been the optimising of our physical work capacity testing programme. Each new recruit must undergo an assessment to ensure they are able to work in the conditions that apply to their job. This is in addition to the basic medical assessment. These physical tests include heart rate and cardio-respiratory function assessments, as well as the recruit’s physical ability to perform the specific job required. These tests are explained prior to recruitment so that the potential recruit understands that they must be able to perform the tasks required for that job. We have found that women wishing to work in core mining positions frequently do not have the required physical or functional capability and upper body strength. If women fail the initial assessment, then we provide the potential recruit with an individual exercise programme particularly to improve their cardio vascular health, as part of the WIM programme. This initiative has helped greatly and has resulted in pass rates rising from 30% to between 50% and 55%. This is especially important given the increasing focus on local employment and the employment of women.
CASE STUDY: Fit for the job
Apart from promoting equality in the workplace, the South African Mining Charter set a target that women should make up 10% of the total women in mining. Achieving these levels has brought with it unique challenges including the real and perceived issue of reduced physical capacity. Read case study
Community health is very relevant to our employees and the sustainability of our business. A large proportion of our category 3-9 employees (an estimated 77%) live in the communities surrounding our operations, and often in very poor conditions. Further, the lack of delivery of basic infrastructure and healthcare services, by the state, has meant that many community members look to local companies to meet these needs.
This situation is recognised by Lonmin as requiring particular attention and, to better understand the situation, we commissioned research among 979 households in seven communities surrounding our operations. See case study: 2011 GLC health survey review informs community health strategy. While we were encouraged by the evidence of a positive trend observed in response to our TB and HIV/AIDS awareness and management programmes, the overall results were quite disheartening and we have used these gaps to guide Lonmin’s community healthcare strategy and projects.
CASE STUDY: Getting to zero
The southern African region has the highest number of people infected and affected by HIV in the world. To try and turn the tide, our 2011 World AIDS Day Campaign focussed on managing the impact of HIV/AIDS in Lonmin, under the banner: “Getting to Zero” READ CASE STUDY
HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis
Lonmin’s biennial wellness campaign, which involves testing for HIV, blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol and a TB symptom screen, took place during between February and August 2012. Supporting this initiative are regular awareness campaigns for employees and communities. The most significant community health issues are HIV/AIDS and TB.
Our HIV management programme aims to:
- educate and inform about HIV/AIDS and its treatment;
- provide access to voluntary counselling and testing;
- provide those employees who are HIV-positive with both medical and emotional support through our wellness programme;
- administer anti-retroviral treatment (ART) to those patients who are HIV-positive. We administer ART to patients with a CD4 T-lymphocyte count of 350, which is higher than the level at which this is administered by the state, to pre-empt, where possible, the progress of the disease; and
- ensure equitable treatment for those infected, in line with the law, Company policy and agreements.
We have 486 trained HIV/AIDS workplace peer educators who inform, educate and instruct their colleagues about HIV/AIDS. Prior to the Marikana tragedy, 279 were active. This is a ratio of 1:101 peer educators per employee, which is below our target of one peer educator per 75 employees. This year, we undertook refresher training to motivate and encourage peer educators. An on-site social worker provides additional counselling to employees, ensuring a holistic approach to their well-being.
We sponsored 46,945 voluntary counselling and HIV tests during the year (2011: 31,666) and had a total of 657 people participating in our wellness programme (2011: 526). This is a 24% improvement towards achieving the target set in 2011. In 2011 we aimed to improve our wellness programme by a further 5% by 30 September 2012 (against the 2011 baseline).
A total of 2,510 people received ART from the Company (2011: 2,022), thus a 24% increase in ART uptake. Of the people receiving ART 92% are male employees. Refer to the Patients on ART graph for a five-year comparison.
An achievement during the year has been the marked reduction in ART-defaulters to below 5%, before August, which was below our target. (ART-defaulters are those individuals who, for whatever reason, miss their monthly treatment collection). This was an encouraging step towards our aim of having zero defaulters. The improvement can be attributed to a combination of education, adherence counselling and the parading system. Sadly the unrest during August negatively impacted this and for that specific month we saw a defaulting rate of 14%. In the month of September defaulting lowered to 9%, thus for the year on average we managed to have a 10% ART-defaulting rate.
HIV/AIDS remains a major cause of in-service deaths, and in 2012 we reported 104 HIV/AIDS-related deaths that are known to the Company (2011: 139).
The high incidence of TB and the relationship between TB and HIV/AIDS remains of concern. All employees and contractors are screened for TB during occupational health examinations, and treatment is provided to all those diagnosed with TB. We also conduct contact tracing and try and manage treatment defaulters in the same way as ART defaulters. In 2012, 527LA new cases of TB were diagnosed (2011: 545 cases). We achieved a cure rate of 87% of cases where the treatment outcome is known, which exceeds our target of 85%. A total of 11 cases of Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis and no cases of Extremely Drug Resistant Tuberculosis were reported in 2012 (2011: 15 and 4).
CASE STUDY: Building bridges of hope
The Workplace Peer Educators are workers from different levels within the organisation who volunteer or are selected by their peers. They are there to share knowledge and practical information, encourage and support others, and promote healthy living. Their services are not limited to the workplace, extending to their families and community. READ CASE STUDY