Case Study

Assmang: building a safety culture

Quick Facts

Solution IsoMetrix EHS
Number of sites 4
Go live date 2007
Number of employees 5 000
Industry Mining

Main modules:

  • Incident management
  • Event management
  • Action manager
  • Audit manager
  • All HSE related

Meeting challenges head-on

When Bonolo Lekwa – Safety and Risk Manager at Assmang Black Rock Mine, situated in the Northern Cape in South Africa – took up his position two years ago, IsoMetrix was an existing system. The system was not, however, being used to its full potential due user resistance.

But, having implemented IsoMetrix at other mines, Bonolo understands the value the software has to improve the safety of a mine, both above and below the ground. To this end, Bonolo has set out to upgrade the system and begin the journey of change management at Assmang Black Rock and implement a safety culture within the organization that embraces technology.

“When I started at Assmang Black Rock, IsoMetrix had already been implemented. But the system was not being used. People were still using a lot of paper to manage their risk, which was frustrating,” explains Bonolo. People were resistant to the change, and frustrated by regulatory issues.” An example of this is that the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) requires documents to be printed, signed and scanned back into the system. These requirements make for cumbersome document management. In South Africa, government departments often inadvertently hinder the technological progress of business, weighed down by bureaucracy that is slow to change. Bonolo was determined not to allow the status quo to deter him and set about finding ways to help the mine embrace change.

Embracing change

People are the ones ultimately responsible for creating a safe working environment. “People are resistant to change the way they work, and are often so comfortable and confident in how they work, anything new is naturally met with resistance,” says Bonolo.

As the leader of this project, Bonolo understands that this challenge needs to be met. “We are involving Process Leaders in the project more, to get better buy in and interest. Eventually we will win this,” he says.

Key objectives

IsoMetrix is part of the mine’s move toward digital transformation, using technology, and increasing access to technology to make the mine safer. The advantage of using IsoMetrix is providing real time, accurate data, across the business. Bonolo explains that IsoMetrix forms an important part of the development of the mine and he aims to have portals underground. Portals are common computers where the people working underground can easily access the system to report incidents. This includes bringing Wi-Fi underground. “It comes with challenges of course, we do not want contraband like cellphones underground that would compromise safety. The Wi-Fi needs secure logins and needs to be carefully monitored. It is amazing that we can have Wi-Fi on planes and underground, and we want to use these advances to make our mine safer,” he says.

The benefit of using IsoMetrix

The HSE department services other departments in the mine such as engineering. So it is important that the HSE data is easily available for everyone who needs it. “As managers and leaders, we rely on that information to make decisions. You have a real feel of what is happening to on the ground,” says Bonolo.

“The benefit of IsoMetrix is having data available to anyone, any time, “explains Bonolo. While a lot of people have computers with which they can access business information, they might not be using technology to its full potential, but the capability is there. “We can see how many incidents we have had, we can filter down to see specific sections of data. A lot of organizations struggle with change management processes. I think it will be much easier when we have implemented Version 4 of IsoMetrix, which we will be doing this year.”

Sticking with the best

Bonolo reports that IsoMetrix has significantly reduced the time he spends compiling reports, and has allowed him to focus his attention on managing the change management around the software, and driving digital transformation on the mine. He notes that accountability and morale has improved, and that he is better equipped to manage his department by having readily available data that helps him to make decision. “When I came to Black Rock, I found IsoMetrix here, but that was not a reason to keep a system. We stay with IsoMetrix because I have yet to find a system with the capabilities that IsoMetrix has.”

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