Keeping our employees safe and productive


Safety remains Gold Fields single most important sustainability issue. This is embodied through our promise that “if we cannot mine safely, we will not mine”. However, we deeply regret that during C2010 there were a total of 18 workplace fatalities at Gold Fields, of which 17 occurred at our South African operations. Although this marks a reduction on C2009 (26 fatalities), every fatality is one too many. We remain fully committed to the ultimate elimination of all incidents and the achievement of ‘Zero Harm’ at our operations.

This prioritisation of safety over production means that in the shortterm, we will choose to leave gold in the ground rather than put our employees at risk. In C2010, for example, it is estimated that we did not mine a total of 2,321 kg of gold in support of this commitment. Whatever the short-term costs of this approach are, we are confident that the long-term moral, reputational and operational benefits are far higher.

This commitment has acted as the bedrock for a comprehensive evolution of our company culture. Instead of accepting the risks involved in gold mining as ‘inherent’, our employees and managers are becoming increasingly conscious that with the right approach and mentality, it can be rendered safe. This realisation is further supported by our constant communication of our ‘Stop, Think, Fix, Verify and Continue’ message, which can be applied by any employee in any situation. It is in this context that our goal of Zero Harm becomes more than an empty aspiration and instead becomes an achievable goal.

What progress we have made during C2010, appears to be partly due to our increased focus on the management of seismicity – including centralised blasting and preconditioning (p75-76). In addition, we have placed further emphasis on the proactive maintenance of infrastructure, as well as the ‘engineering out’ of risk and increased underground mechanisation (p67).