South Africa. Bernard Swanepoel, former CEO of Harmony Gold, believes that CEOs who actively participate in enforcing Health and Safety standards are doomed to fail due to the constraints of overseeing a multibillion rand company.
Mr Swanepoel recognized the need for CEOs to actively participate in enforcing Safety standards and stated so at a recent Mine Health and Safety workshop.
He also added that the pressures of the position cause CEOs to fail at active enforcement of Health and Safety standards.
Bernard quoted himself as an example and added that he had failed miserably as a CEO in regard to Safety standards enforcement.
Bernard Swanepoel was the CEO of Harmony when masses of mineworkers were trapped underground for more than 48 hours. He (Swanepoel) proposed that one solution would be to make Safety the first priority.
With the looming global crisis, production in the gold and platinum sectors has declined and now CEOs are inclined to make increased output the first priority.
Paul Mardon, Occupational Mine Health and Safety head of trade union Solidarity reported that such tight situations with no clear lesser evil forced companies to lower their standards.
Mr Mardon further added that frontline management should be responsible for ensuring a company’s Health and Safety target is met.
Mardon felt that there was a communication breakdown between workers on the ground and top management.
He reported that the involvement of frontline management in the communication process would mean that CEOs would have better understanding of what was going on on the ground and workers would also have better understanding of management’s expectation.
Source: Mining Weekly