Integrated Annual Report 2016
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 Strategic objective 1: Keeping our people safe

If we cannot keep our people safe we should not be in the steel business

Strategic objective 1: Keeping our people safe   Strategic objective 1: Keeping our people safe

Why this is important

Safety affects our people’s lives and their work performance, our reputation, market acceptance, profitability and potentially, our legal licence to operate..

Unless everyone feels safe while working at our company, we will be unable to maintain a high-performance culture, without which we will fail to drive profitability; safety not only underpins our licence to operate but is essential to our sustainability. In 2016 three people died while working at ArcelorMittal South Africa. These tragic events were utterly unacceptable.

Three-year key performance indicators

  • KPI
  Work-related fatalities+            
    2014   2015   2016  
      4   2   3  

  • KPI
  Lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR)+            
    2014   2015   2016  
      0.58   0.48   0.62  

  • KPI
  Lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR)+            
    2014   2015   2016  
      15.83   10.77   9.50  

Issues that were most material to driving safety issues in 2016

  • Ensuring workplace safety
  • Addressing contractor safety compliance

Key actions taken in 2016 to achieve this strategic objective

  • Embedded a company-wide focus on serious occurrences
  • Focused on total injuries, to cultivate a 24/7 safety mindset
  • Communicated “emotional connections” to safety
Work-related fatalities   Lost time injury frequency rate   Total injury frequency rate

A mixed safety performance

Our safety performance in 2016 was decidedly mixed with some business units achieving outstanding, sometimes record, safety milestones while others returned results that differed markedly from quarter to quarter.

This year we suffered three work-related fatalities, all three deaths being contractor employees and all three tragic incidents being entirely preventable.

In 2016 we made considerable progress in bedding down important new aspects of our safety policy and monitoring and reporting procedures. In particular, we focused on engendering a new culture which emphasises individual and team caring and responsibility above systems while successfully communicating the devastating emotional consequences of unsafe behaviour. This year senior management reported having benefited from stronger, more resolute board leadership on safety. This was largely ascribed to the efforts and vigilance of the safety, health and environment (SHE) committee which, from this year, is chaired by independent non-executive director Neville Nicolau.

In 2016, at 0.62 our overall LTIFR deteriorated from the 0.48 of the previous year and even the 0.58 of 2014. This disappointing result was largely the result of underperformance by the long steel products division.

At 0.89 the disabling injury frequency rate – which includes fatalities, lost time injuries and restricted workday case injuries – was also worse than that of 2015 (0.70).

Vanderbijlpark Works recorded an outstanding safety record in 2016. Achievements included more than 12 million lost time injury (LTI)-free man hours being worked for a 200-day LTI-free record and an LTIFR that declined from 0.51 of 2015 to 0.39.

One most encouraging achievement was the successful Saldanha reline which was completed without a single LTI. In May this year Saldanha achieved a 664-day LTI-free record and finished the year with an LTIFR of 0.30 (2015: 0.0).

While flat steel products performed admirably, the same could not be said for long steel products where most safety indicators disappointed. In addition to two deaths (both at Newcastle) most long steel indicators deteriorated: LTIFR 0.92 and total injury frequency rate (TIFR) 12.98 (in 2015 long steel products did not report safety as a single unit).

At mid-year, by which time long steel’s safety record for the year had become a cause for serious concern, the SHE committee approved a number of interventions aimed at improving this performance. These included re-energising the behaviour-based care (BBC) process, increased vigilance including more after-hour visits by senior personnel, communicating lower risk thresholds and reviewing, and remedying, contractors’ specific on-site risk profiles.

There were, however, pockets of safety excellence at long steel products; the reasons why these areas of operation performed relatively so well were examined by senior management and lessons learnt communicated to, especially, underperforming areas.

Lost time injury frequency rate (quarterly)   Total injury frequency rate (quarterly)
Lost time injury frequency rate (quarterly)  

Changing our safety culture

This year management reported safety gains deriving from the more devolved management structures implemented the previous year. This gave individual business units the ability to apply protocols and to communicate in ways that speak more effectively to employees’ experiences on the ground. In particular, general managers were motivated to assume even greater responsibility for safety and to remedy identified gaps in safety and supervisory skills, especially those of contractors.

Across the company a key focus in 2016 was on the quality of safety communications, at pre-shift and other meetings where a “brother’s keeper” initiative was instituted and employees were encouraged to speak out about unsafe conditions or acts. Company-wide communications aimed to cement an emotional connection, in the minds of employees and contractor staff, between safety and their behaviour. To this end some 1 000 drawings by employees’ children and grandchildren reminding employees about how their families depended on them to keep themselves safe were prominently displayed along with symbolic walls and gardens of remembrance, commemorating those who had lost their lives at our premises.

Vanderbijlpark undertook industrial theatre performances which involved plays communicating the importance of subordinates not being pressured into accepting unsafe conditions and practices by their superiors, and a snake handler displaying live snakes (to convey impactful hazard-awareness messages). The “snakes for safety” training programme is fully integrated with the company’s hazard identification and risk assessment programme, using live snakes as metaphors for the hazards of life and work.

In keeping with our greater emphasis on creating an environment in which everyone takes responsibility for their safety and that of their colleagues and teams, we intend to embrace so-called positive performance indicators which classify and emphasise the effects injuries have on the lives of individuals over the much-relied on capturing of LTIs. However, for at least the foreseeable future, LTIFR will remain a cardinal measure of our safety performance at plant and company level.

In pursuing the ArcelorMittal group key sustainability outcome of ensuring “safe, healthy, quality working lives for our people” we believe that a more meaningful measure of the extent to which the desired safety culture has taken root at ArcelorMittal South Africa is the TIFR. In 2016 our TIFR stood at 9.50 (2015: 10.77, 2014: 15.83).

Contractor safety a key concern

This year all three people killed while working at our plants were employees of contractors. Similarly, in 2014 three of four people killed in work-related incidents at our premises worked for contractors while of the two fatalities in 2015, one was of a contractor employee. In the past three years, therefore, seven of nine people killed at our facilities worked for contractors.

On 14 January 2016 Mr VTS Xaba, a general worker employed by a contractor, was killed when a coke crusher at Newcastle, which he had entered to remove a blockage, started up unexpectedly, not having been isolated and locked out. Mr Xaba was 38 years old and the father of two children aged three and five.

On 30 May 2016 Mr JW Vermaak was crushed when a large tundish, also at Newcastle Works, fell on him while he and colleagues attempted to flip the tundish over, a most unorthodox procedure which was aimed at loosening its refractory lining prior to it being relined. Mr Vermaak was 62 years old. He leaves a wife and two children.

On 10 November 2016 Mr Tebogo Motsepe, a security officer, died when he fell through a translucent section of roofing at Vanderbijlpark’s Cold Rolling South installation. At the time he was attempting to apprehend suspected copper thieves. Mr Motsepe was married with a three-year-old child.

Serious occurrences/potential to cause serious
injury or fatality (quarterly)
  Unsafe acts (000) (quarterly)
Serious occurrences/potential to cause serious injury or fatality (quarterly)   Unsafe acts (000) (quarterly)

All three incidents were thoroughly researched and lessons learnt communicated throughout the organisation. Appropriate disciplinary action was taken while, at the direction of the SHE committee, new procedures – to ensure that the needs of families of contractor workers affected by death and serious injury were thoroughly attended to – were implemented and the actions taken interrogated. The committee required such steps to ensure that the company meets its duty of care towards all of those involved in our production processes.

In 2016 overall contractor safety performance worsened, the contractor LTIFR for 2016 being 0.91 against 2015’s 0.31 and LTIs more than tripling (13 versus four the previous year). This year concerted action to improve the safety of contractor employees was taken. A first contravention of SHE legislation and standards now entails a penalty of 15% of contract value with contractors incurring penalties of 30% of contract value for each subsequent infraction.

SHE personnel were tasked this year with ensuring more stringent implementation of non-conformance report procedures, which include formal hearings and processes to ensure that all corrective measures are executed satisfactorily.

At Newcastle this year one contractor employing 600 people on site was thoroughly audited for exposure of individuals to risks. The contractor was required to redeploy individuals identified as being “very high risk”. This audit will be replicated with other contractors.

While it is necessary to ensure ongoing, inclusive engagement on safety issues, in 2016 we strengthened our zero tolerance towards unsafe behaviour, one contractor was blacklisted and 279 contractor employees formally warned.

Safety outlook

In 2016 we bedded down our focus, introduced the previous year, on serious occurrences (SOs) and potential to cause serious injury or fatality (PSIF) cases, in line with ArcelorMittal group policy. Considerable effort went into ensuring that individual plant management and supervisors understood their SO and PSIF reporting targets and were conversant with the implementation of these important measures. This process will be further entrenched in 2017 while visible felt leadership will be strengthened with the introduction of more regular informal briefings in a classroom setting.

More rigorous, more regular internal fatality prevention audits and cross-audits will be conducted to improve compliance while greater use will be made of CCTV monitoring to create a widespread awareness that individual and team behaviour is constantly being observed.

© ArcelorMittal 2017