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Our highest priority is the safety of our operations, including our workforce and the communities in which we operate.

BHP's Our Charter value of Sustainability articulates safety as a fundamental element in the way we conduct our business. The safety of our people and the communities in which we operate must always come first. Our working environments by their nature potentially expose our workforce and the communities in which we operate to risks. This is why our objective is to identify those risks and implement controls. Our assessments of safety risks also include potential community impacts and controls to manage these broader impacts.

We set global safety priorities in FY2016 that continue to guide our decision-making and approach to safety. The four focus areas are:

  • reinforce that safety comes before productivity
  • focus on in-field verification of controls for risks with the potential to result in one or more fatalities
  • enhance our internal investigation process and widely share and apply lessons
  • enable additional quality field time to engage our workforce

Safety practices are governed by the Group-wide minimum mandatory Our Requirements standards for Health, Safety, Environment and Community (HSEC) and also Risk Management, as well as local regulatory requirements, standards and procedures. The Our Requirements for Safety standard defines the most common safety risks and their minimum controls. Each operated asset assesses further controls that may be required to manage its specific risks to meet the objective of no fatalities and follow local regulatory requirements. Subject matter experts and operational and functional personnel were engaged to participate in the development, implementation and evaluation of the Our Requirements standards relevant to safety, which are based on recognised risk management and management system guidelines such as ISO or the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Formal joint management–worker health and safety committees, when existing, vary across the organisation and are driven by local regulatory requirements.

To ensure a safe workplace, our workforce must adhere to all relevant Our Requirements standards. Our leaders are accountable for implementing these requirements and ensuring that supporting systems are in place. Our leaders must provide an environment where everyone feels safe to report any threats to their own safety or the safety of others. It is everyone’s responsibility to help to prevent and report workplace-related injuries and illnesses. We communicate relevant safety information to workers through organisational communication tools like Yammer, HSEC Business Partners, Leadership, Toolbox Talks, FAQs and implementation guidelines.

The Our Requirements for Safety standard requires the implementation of controls, based on the assessment of the risks identified, using the hierarchy of controls (elimination, substitution, separation, engineering, administrative, personal protective equipment) in:

  • design and construction of new operated assets, facilities and equipment
  • changes to existing operated assets, facilities and equipment
  • design, planning, scheduling and execution of work

We believe having the right controls in place that are designed to manage our risks with safety impacts will lead to improved safety outcomes.
We continue to provide opportunities for interaction with our workforce to improve our safety performance. Routine engagement with employees and contractors includes health and safety committees; pre-start meetings; in-field leaders discussing job-specific safety risks; and safety toolbox talks, all of which visibly demonstrate our priority of working safely.

In FY2020, we implemented additional requirements for engaging and managing contractors. These contractor safety requirements have been rolled out across our operated assets. In addition, the Integrated Contractor Management program was established to:

  • take a human-centric, inclusive approach to establish partnerships with external service providers, driving safer work through integrated processes and technologies
  • develop long-term mutually beneficial relationships with our external partners
  • support an inclusive, respectful and caring workforce culture, with improved safety, health and wellbeing outcomes

We continue to strengthen our safety leadership and culture by educating our people about ‘chronic unease’, which is being mindful of the possibility of what could go wrong and creating a culture in which it is safe to speak up and report hazards and incidents. One of the objectives of our global Field Leadership Program is to strengthen our reporting culture. We monitor reporting culture across all our operated assets and coach and support our leaders to improve the quality of our field leadership activities with our workforce.

To support the BHP target of zero work-related fatalities, we have been working towards global alignment of risk assessments, critical controls and performance standards for three key safety risks: person(s) falling from heights; lifting and cranage; and confined space incidents. The vision is to establish best practice critical control requirements and enable continuous improvement of our global safety risk profile.

We continue to play a key role in supporting the International Council on Mining and Metals in its development and delivery of the Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles initiative that promotes cleaner and safer mining vehicles.

Safety event investigations

The Our Requirements standards require all health, safety, environmental and community (HSEC) events be reported and recorded in our event management system. During FY2019, we introduced our improved and more intuitive event management system. The system allows us to capture incident investigations and share information across BHP so that we can learn from those incidents. The system also drives data quality, through consistent inputs and outputs, producing meaningful and effective reports to support learning and knowledge sharing across the organisation. In FY2020, we enhanced our event management system to allow events to be recorded in more detail, to enable deeper analysis and continuous improvement.

The potential and actual severity of the event will determine the type of investigation that is required. An event is any occurrence that has resulted in, or has the potential to result in, adverse consequences to people, the environment or the local community. Events are classified on their potential severity and actual severity using our risk management severity table.

Event and investigation procedures are designed to drive consistent quality reporting and investigation outcomes following unwanted events. These procedures include investigation methodologies and accountabilities, with criteria for determining which events are to be investigated. The procedures must also include processes for verifying investigation actions and communicating findings. Trained and qualified personnel are required to conduct investigations to the level of detail prescribed in the procedures, which takes into account the nature and severity of the events, to produce consistent investigation outcomes. The investigation of an event with an HSEC impact must be completed within 28 days of the event occurring or being discovered (investigation extensions require approval). The investigation findings and actions must be recorded in the event management system. Any gaps identified in the causes or controls in place at the time of the event must be actioned and closed. Our Code of Conduct and EthicsPoint processes are designed to protect our workers against reprisals.

We prioritise near misses and injuries with fatality potential for in-depth investigation and appoint personnel with investigation expertise to facilitate and lead investigations using Timeline and 5-Why and Incident Cause Analysis Method investigation methodologies. This approach is designed to drive understanding of absent/failed defences and identifies actions to be implemented at the higher end of the hierarchy of control to seek to prevent reoccurrence.

Senior leaders are involved in leading these investigations, giving them the opportunity to learn through practice. We believe this positively impacts their ability to share lessons and to influence learning across their leadership networks and routines.

Organisational, cultural and leadership factors are examined to consider whether they contributed to an incident. A repository of investigation findings from across our operated assets is available to our people, with findings presented in a standard format that can be filtered and searched. In FY2020, we conducted a pilot to investigate positive safety performance and shared those lessons, where applicable, across BHP.

Our new initiative for fatality elimination

In FY2020, there were no fatalities at our operated assets and we have continued the disciplined implementation of our safety standards.

Analysis of the Group’s historical safety performance, investigation outcomes and a review of external safety ‘best practice’ approaches has identified further opportunities to significantly reduce near-miss incidents, which in turn should enable BHP to take the next significant step in eliminating fatalities.

The opportunity for improvement exists on two fronts; firstly, strengthening controls to reduce safety risks, and secondly, driving a stronger, more positive safe-to-speak-up culture underpinned by an enhanced operating discipline.

Near-miss potential fatality event data across BHP’s operated assets is analysed to help identify and redouble our focus on the risks that have the highest fatality potential.

A Fatality Elimination Project is to be implemented in FY2021. Its objectives are:

  • identification and implementation of ‘hard’ control requirements (including elimination, substitution, separation and engineering controls) that are higher up the hierarchy of controls
  • establishment of best practice control requirements through combined knowledge and experience across regions and within industry
  • reduction in the variability of control requirements across our operated assets (intended particularly to benefit individuals such as contractors who work across multiple assets)
  • sharing and driving organisational learnings across regions
  • accelerating the replication of future control improvements

Our safety performance

In FY2020, total recordable injury frequency (TRIF) performance decreased by 11 per cent to 4.2 per million hours worked, compared to 4.7 in FY2019.

High potential injuries (HPI) decreased by 16 per cent from FY2019 and the frequency rate decreased by 23 per cent. HPI trends remain a primary focus to assess progress against our most important safety objective: to eliminate fatalities.

We see the highest number of events that have fatality potential in vehicle, mobile equipment, dropped and falling object events.


Graph - high potential injuries

(1) High potential injuries (HPI) are recordable injuries and first ad cases where there was the potential for a fatality. FY2016 to FY2018 data includes Continuing and Discontinued operations (Onshore US-operated assets).
(2) FY2018 data has been adjusted due to the reclassification of an event after the reporting period. 
(3) FY2019 data includes Discontinued operations (Onshore US-operated assets) to 28 February 2019 and Continuing operations.
(4) High potential injury basis of calculation revised in FY2020 from event count to injury count as part of a safety reporting methodology improvement. 

Graph - total injury frequency

(1) FY2016 to FY2019 data includes Continuing and Discontinued operations. 
(2) FY2019 data includes Discontinued operations (Onshore US-operated assets) to 28 February 2019 and Continuing operations. 

Graph - workplace fatalities

(1) FY2014 to FY2018 data includes Continuing and Discontinued operations. 
(2) FY2019 data includes data for Discontinued operations (Onshore US-operated assets) to 28 February 2019 and Continuing operations. 

In FY2020, we focused on improving critical control design and performance (controls that alone or in conjunction with other controls significantly reduce the likelihood and/or impact of material safety risk) and continued to remove people from potential sources of danger through the implementation of standardised ways of working and use of new technologies. With a view to improving organisational learning, we focused our facilitator and leader investigation training on implementing actions that are at the higher end of the hierarchy of control, and on improving organisational factors in processes, systems, leadership and culture.

Hazard identification and reporting remains a priority as a healthy reporting culture provides us with the signals to urgently respond.

Field Leadership Program

Leaders spending time in the field is vital to maintaining safe operations. Through our Field Leadership Program, leaders from all levels of BHP spend time engaging directly with employees and contractors about safety. They are also responsible for verifying critical controls that are behavioural in nature and ensuring that elements of our Health, Safety, Environment and Community management system are working as intended. Through this engagement, we are able to identify positive behaviours, at-risk behaviours and opportunities for system improvements.

The Field Leadership Program was deployed with a BHP-wide common approach in FY2019. This included common training and a system to support the recording of field leadership activities. Over the past two years, more than 2.7 million field leadership activities with our workforce were completed, showing that this program has been embedded into our daily leadership routines. We monitor field leadership participation and coaching at our operated assets, supporting the continual improvement and embedment of the program.

During FY2020, field leadership work focused on: 

  • embedding field leadership activities with operational leaders in each operated asset
  • identifying and analysing critical control failures
  • completing actions to address critical control failure

We introduced the following lead indicators for field leadership to track quality and further enhance the program. These indicators formed part of the performance scorecard for our executives and included:

  • increasing field leadership coaching activities
  • identifying and analysing critical control failures
  • ensuring all risks that have behavioural controls are covered and completing the field leadership activities to plan
  • timely completion of actions to address critical control failures.

Contractor safety

The past seven fatalities at our operated assets involved contractors or subcontractors. This has brought into sharp focus the issue of contractor safety, given 40,000 contractors comprise around two-thirds of our workforce, and precipitated significant changes to the way we engage and manage contractors.

Global contractor safety requirements now form an integral part of the Our Requirements for Safety standard and are based on lessons from previous contractor and subcontractor fatalities. The standard guides leaders on how they can effectively help to keep contractors and subcontractors safe while at work. In addition, assurance activities from frontline leaders and Internal Audit and Advisory team audits have been implemented to monitor, verify and seek to improve contractor safety.

The next phase of this work is to integrate the following guiding principles into our approach to contractor management:

  • Inclusive culture – Contractors and BHP employees are treated and operate as one team;
  • Mutually beneficial relationships – We actively work to develop long-term relationships with contractors; and
  • Simple processes and systems – Our processes and systems are fit for purpose and deliver a simpler and safer user experience.

Global Risk Alignment

Given the nature of our activities, we face common safety risks and are working towards aligning and establishing best practices for critical controls.

In FY2020, we worked through our Global Risk Alignment Project to align requirements for managing the following risks:

  • person(s) falling from heights
  • lifting and cranage
  • confined-space incidents

By aligning the minimum control performance standards, we will be able to utilise risk verification and event data to improve our ability to learn and continuously improve. Global implementation of the alignment process for our three main risks noted above will continue in FY2021.

The outcomes of this project support BHP’s priority to eliminate fatality risk through improving the effectiveness of our risk management application and approach. The project is designed to deliver the following key business outcomes and benefits:

  • superior knowledge base when collaborating across regions to benchmark best practice critical control design
  • drives organisational learnings across regions
  • accelerated replication of control improvements (improving from the same baseline)
  • simplification of control execution minimising potential for error (e.g. contractors who work across multiple operated assets)
  • development of a larger set of comparable verification data to report on key trends and improvement opportunities
  • a standard control environment to verify our safety performance against (audit findings are relevant across a wider scope)
  • change impact assessments have been performed to analyse the impacts of the Global Risk Alignment Project with key business stakeholders. The findings from the change assessment are extremely important as they drive the development of the project’s change management strategies
Roles and responsibilities

Within BHP, we have trained and qualified personnel with specific responsibilities to manage our approach to safety. Our Group Risk representative for occupational safety is responsible for the design, governance and approval of the aligned safety risks, while our Group Safety representatives lead the Global Risk Alignment Project and support the facilitation of alignment of risks across the regions with subject matter experts.

Risk and controls owners within their operated asset or region lead the evaluation and implementation of aligned risk content for their operated asset or region.

Risk teams support the alignment process changes within their operated assets or regions. Operational leadership, as well as teams from safety analysis and improvement and HSE Business Partners, support the alignment process, outcomes and governance within their operated asset or region.

Security, Crisis and Emergency Management, and Business Continuity Plans

We updated the Our Requirements for Security and Emergency Management standard in FY2019. New requirements were introduced for security management, including the designation of a single point of accountability for security management and the use of approved security specialists. The requirements also provide guidance on when to undertake security risk assessments and when to prepare security management plans. In addition, the standard includes guidance on how to set up response teams and provide crisis and emergency management training.

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