Mining Report: Safety Most Important

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 @ 05:01 PM gHale


Worker safety and managing capital projects are the highest priorities for mining executives, according to a new study.

The next most pressing priority is maximizing production effectiveness, according to the third annual Mining Executive Insights survey conducted by ABB’s Ventyx.

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Completed in late 2012, the survey represents the views of 374 mining companies with operations in all world markets. The majority of respondents were C-level executives, vice presidents or directors across the full spectrum of mining sectors, including coal, gold, copper, iron ore, zinc and nickel.

When asked to identify their current priorities by level of importance, this year’s respondents replied:
• Ensuring workforce safety (31 percent)
• Managing capital projects (25 percent)
• Maximizing production effectiveness (21 percent)
• Ensuring equipment operates reliably and predictably (8 percent)

Incorporating technology and institutionalizing safety programs is already showing tremendous results, the survey said. Some companies have cut accidental deaths by 2/3 and significantly reduced injuries.

By automating tasks such as safety checks and work order processing, it is possible to get information to workers at the point of performance.

Providing step-by-step instructions, access to guides and diagrams, full work and asset history, part catalogs and more not only enables workers to be safer and more efficient, it also helps newer employees to be productive faster, with shorter ramp-up periods.

Solutions such as mobile asset management provide the information needed to ensure workers can efficiently comply with safety programs.

“Our research shows the mining industry remains cautious about the strength of global economic recovery,” said Bas Mutsaers, senior vice president of Mining Industry Solutions, Ventyx. “In response, many mining organizations have begun looking inward, especially in regard to the labor market. In doing so, they have shifted their focus from finding qualified workers anywhere, at any cost to ensuring the workforce they currently have is efficient, well-informed and safe.”

“At the same time, these companies aren’t seeing a tradeoff between worker safety and profitability,” Mutsaers said. “In other words, the same technologies and best practices that improve safety also improve performance and efficiency.”

The study demonstrated how closely mining executives correlate worker safety and mine productivity. When asked to identify their primary safety initiatives, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents selected “development of skills, best work practices and situation-based decision making.”

“As companies equip their workforces with new technologies – such as mobility solutions that enable faster access to information, regardless of location – they are finding they can change their traditional approach to training and skill development,” said Mutsaers. “There is definitely an opportunity for mining organizations to leverage emerging technologies to transform how they educate and empower their workers to reduce safety incidents and improve efficiencies.”

Click here for complete survey results.



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