De Beers Group is proving that the best mechanism to drive a safe mining business is for management to lead by example, and this starts with the company’s senior leadership team, including CEO Bruce Cleaver. They have together established a CEO Safety Summit initiative, which now in its third year is committed to achieving zero harm throughout the company’s global operations globally.

The CEO Safety Summit, which takes place every year in January and August, brings together a wide range of personnel from De Beers Group’s executive committee as well as general managers, safety and sustainable development leads and safety line managers. Over the course of a week they collaborate and discuss the requirements needed to establish a safety framework that guides the company’s day-to-day operations and will ensure zero harm for every employee.

The company’s recently appointed principal safety lead Willemien Potgieter attended the recent summit held in August and believes it has positioned De Beers as a leader in driving safety within the mining sector.

Potgieter is a qualified electrical engineer, project manager and engineering safety manager and has worked for the metal, pulp and paper, chrome, petroleum and mining sectors, applying her knowledge of engineering into safety leadership roles. From an early age she committed her career to helping heavy industries such as mining work towards achieving zero harm and believes it is possible. In her position she is driving safety across De Beers Group’s global operations in Canada, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.

De Beers Group’s August 2019 CEO Safety Summit focused closely on six focus areas – leadership and culture, critical control management/fatal risk prevention, capacity building, learning and sharing and contractor management.

These areas will be built into a framework, each with their own priorities and outputs. “Importantly, all of the initiatives and actions we outline must be measureable and put into systems to create sustainable methodologies that support the framework,” says Potgieter.

Following the growing success from what now totals five summits since it was initiated in 2017, Potgieter will facilitate co-design sessions necessary to establish roadmaps for each operation as part of the process towards finalising a safety framework. This will reduce resistance to change, ensure a clear alignment on deliverables and help build relationships and encourage knowledge sharing she notes.

“50% of the co-designed session work streams will be completed by January with the intention to have all the co-designed sessions completed by the second summit held in August.”

While the steps taken in building a safe business is a work in progress Potgieter notes that the implementation of actions and initiatives are always taking place in parallel to the CEO Safety Summits.

“Improving safety is an ongoing process and an area that receives priority and attention every day,” she concludes.

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