Meeting international standards is not an end-goal but an essential step in continuously raising the performance bar, according to Concor Mining Services HSE & training manager, Neil Fourie.
With its quality, environmental management, and occupational health and safety management system certifications recently renewed, Concor has underpinned its world-class status, says Fourie.
“These standards represent the life blood of our business, as customers rely on our management processes to provide them with the highest quality of service,” he says. “Our certification in terms of ISO 45001:2018, ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 gives them the peace of mind that we operate a management system aligned to global best practice.”
He emphasises that a key element of the ISO standards is the principle of effective control and continuous improvement to company procedures and processes.
“Each year that we operate with these certifications in place, our management system matures and improves,” he says. “This guides us into deeper levels of auditing, which in turn drives our efforts to become better at everything we do – including raising our productivity and compliance.”
Good systems provide a backbone for the business, he notes, allowing the management team to focus on the operations and on smooth implementation of projects. This is increasingly vital in a competitive market, where managers on site must be able to tackle their important tasks in a systematic and methodical fashion.
One of the certification requirements is that internal audits are conducted on a regular basis to determine the effectiveness of our systems. “The
internal audits are conducted at various levels and this interaction with our employees also has its own benefits, according to Concor Mining Services quality manager, Liz Diederichs. Far from being simply administrative checklist exercises, internal audits create valuable opportunities for engagement, coaching of employees at all levels, raising awareness, and often with inputs from the auditees opportunities for improvement.
“On a quality management audit, for instance, we check that all systems on a project are understood, implemented and maintained, allowing us to give considerable support to site management,” says Diederichs. She highlights the collaborative culture within Concor Mining Services, where all the relevant personnel are involved in the audits and the formulation of procedures.
“All activities and tasks are discussed in detail, ensuring that employees buy into the process of creating the procedures that ensure the best practice is followed,” she says.
Fourie notes that having a well-entrenched integrated management system that is aligned to international standards streamlines project turnaround times. On every new site that must be established, clear guidelines are in place for starting up and operating, so everyone can see what needs to be done.
“This also makes it easier to on-board new employees and ensure that they become productive as quickly as possible,” he says. “This adds to our adaptability and agility on projects, enhancing our cost competitiveness, workmanship and reliability in terms of meeting deadlines.”
As managers, specialists and professionals move between sites where projects are already underway, they can also slot into the workflow more easily as the systems and record keeping provide a detailed picture of planned and completed tasks.
“Having our own system based on international standards improves our interaction with the client too,” he says. “It allows us to easily align to the client’s requirements, or to seamlessly apply our own world-class system without compromising continuity.”
Concor Mining Services sets well defined objectives and targets to include from strategic, operational and functional through to health, safety and environmental issues like energy efficiency, carbon footprint, and equipment maintenance. Applying its standards-based integrated management system, the company has over the past five years maintained a zero-fatality rate and a lost-time injury rate of 0,00%, he says.
Installation of LED lighting at company facilities and rain harvesting at engineering workshops are among the energy and environmental interventions, while improved maintenance has been extending equipment lifespan and reducing the carbon footprint.
Learning from health, safety, environmental and operational incidents has been an important feature in the continuous improvement journey with in-depth investigations, root-cause analysis and corrective action helping to eliminate the causes of non-conformances. The integration of Concor Mining Services’ management systems allows this learning to be effectively shared across the organisation.
“Our formalised systems also allow us to better monitor, measure, analyse our processes and communicate the status of our progress to all employees, so that there is a good understanding of their contribution towards achieving our targets,” says Diederichs.