A culture that embraces care and trust as core values is fundamental to achieving improved outcomes. Our highest priority is to protect the safety and wellbeing of our workforce and the communities where we operate.
We maintain our commitment to eliminate fatalities and reduce the likelihood of life altering injuries and illness. Our key focus areas include:
- leading authentically and embracing a culture of care and trust, to make it feel safe for everyone to speak up
- reinforcing through our actions that safety comes before productivity
- continued focus on in-field verification of control effectiveness
- sharing and learning from events, especially those with the potential for one or more fatalities
- quality field leadership engagements via meaningful conversations with those closest to the work and the risk
- quality investigations so that we optimise our ability to learn and improve
- management of our highest material safety risks
Regrettably we had two workers lose their lives in FY2023. Providing support to their respective families, friends and colleagues was of importance following these tragic events. The loss of these team members sadly reinforces our focus on eliminating fatalities at BHP and the important need to continually strengthen the control environment and build system capacity and resilience.
Our approach and position
BHP’s Our Charter value of Sustainability articulates safety as fundamental to the way we conduct our business. The safety of our people and the communities where we operate must always come first. By their nature, our working environments potentially expose our workforce to risks. Therefore, our objective is to identify those risks and implement controls to prevent or mitigate the potential impacts. Our assessment of safety risks also includes, where relevant, consideration of potential community impacts and controls to manage these.
We continue to engage with our workforce to learn and improve as we believe they are instrumental in helping us to achieve better safety outcomes and overall performance. We communicate and collaborate with workers through several global and local communication pathways across the organisation, including:
- corporate requirement updates (e.g. the Our Requirements for Safety standard)
- BHP operating system (BOS) routines
- in-field leaders being curious about the reality of work and encouraging conversations with the workforce about job-specific safety risks and how they think we can strengthen controls
- coaching from health, safety, environment and community (HSEC) business partners about
- field leadership engagements
- Safe starts and toolbox talks
- digital media (e.g. Leadership messages, Bright Spots)
Governance and oversight
For information on the role of the BHP Board in overseeing our approach to and delivery on sustainability refer to the Sustainability approach webpage.
Our operated assets and functions must meet the Our Requirements standards (where applicable) and assess and implement further controls in accordance with their local risk profiles, standards and regulatory requirements.
The Our Requirements for Safety standard requires the implementation of controls to manage identified risks using the hierarchy of control (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
Fatality Elimination Program
A BHP project team was established to coordinate the Fatality Elimination Program’s global objectives by undertaking analysis of BHP’s historical safety performance, investigation outcomes and external safety best practice learnings to identify opportunities for our business to improve our ability to eliminate fatalities.
In FY2021, we introduced our Fatality Elimination Program to support a step-change towards our goal of zero fatalities across BHP. The program seeks to integrate with existing programs of work where possible and primarily focuses on:
- strengthening controls – identifying new and enhancing existing controls across our top 10 material safety risks
- applying a human and organisational performance approach to our work – seeking to understand the context relating to how work gets done, the human dependencies associated with controls and improving our understanding of the complex interactions between people, work systems, equipment/tools, processes and culture
A suite of over 64 recommended controls were identified comprising new controls and material to existing controls. Where applicable, our operated assets and functions conducted gap assessments against the recommended controls and prioritised actions to close the gaps within their respective Fatality Elimination Plans.
Mining, equipment, technology and services (METS) organisations were engaged to provide control solutions, including those identified across industry as emerging safety innovations. These controls have been evaluated for potential implementation within BHP based on applicability, effectiveness and readiness for implementation.
The tragic loss of two colleagues has amplified the importance of our Fatality Elimination Program (FEL) even further. It is paramount that we learn and improve from these tragic events and remain committed to our goal to have no fatalities.
We are seeking to enhance the effectiveness of the Fatality Elimination Program by operationalising our recent fatality investigation learnings. While BHP’s top 10 material risks are predominately associated with actual high-potential and near miss events, which has driven the development of Fatality Elimination Program control management plans at our assets, we recognise there are ongoing improvement opportunities relating to the development, verification and validation of critical controls for other material risks.
In FY2023 we:
- continued implementation of the five-year fatality elimination roadmap, including the recommended sequencing of strengthened controls based on effort, cost and near miss reduction impact
- continued our ongoing quarterly review routine of high-potential near miss and actual events to ensure we remain focused on the relevant risks and conditions that may increase the likelihood of accidents
- undertook an internal audit across Minerals Australia operated assets (December 2022) to assess the adequacy of controls identified under the respective Fatality Elimination Program plans. Key audit findings and recommendations identified the opportunity to improve the approach to the overall FEL program progress reporting and provision of supporting evidence. A Minerals Americas operated assets audit is planned for FY2024 Q1
The fatality risk management framework will be reviewed to determine if there are any opportunities for improvement in FY2024 following a review of the fatality investigation findings.
Our global Field Leadership Program drives a common approach to improving health, safety, and environment (HSE) performance with a focus on preventing fatalities and developing a positive ‘safe to speak up’ culture of care – a key attribute of progressive, high reliability organisations and the world’s best HSE performers.
The Field Leadership Program was deployed with a common global approach in FY2019.
To date, more than 6 million field leadership activities involving our workforce have been completed, which demonstrates that the program is being embedded into our daily leadership routines. We monitor field leadership participation and coaching at our operated assets to support the continual improvement and embedment of the program.
Leaders spending time in the field helps maintain safe operations. Our global Field Leadership Program encourages the workforce to provide feedback to their leaders about safety to reinforce an interdependent culture of safety. It involves leaders engaging with workers in the field to drive a common approach to improving health, safety and environment (HSE) performance. The program helps verify that critical safety controls are in place, being applied and are effective in managing risks that have the potential to result in fatalities.
In FY2023 we:
- continued to improve the quality of field leadership activities by increasing coaching and delivery of field leadership engagements
- conducted field leadership activities to support the verification of risks that have the potential to result in fatalities across our operated assets
- continued to embed the global, standardised field leadership procedure designed to increase the effectiveness of field leadership activities across the business
- leveraged predictive data analytics to initiate a ‘critical control observation uplift program’ during the end of the calendar year holiday season, to focus each respective operation on potential hot spots and blind spots
Safety event investigations
Our mandatory minimum performance requirements for health, safety, environment and community (HSEC) reporting requires HSEC events to be reported and recorded in our Event Management System. We promote the reporting of events so that we can learn and improve. Our Code of Conduct and EthicsPoint processes are designed to support and encourage event reporting (including reporting events related to sexual harassment, racism, bullying and discrimination) and to protect our workers against any potential reprisals from doing so. Our leaders are encouraged to build trust and role model behaviours that make it feel safe to speak up and report incidents,unsafe conditions and improvement suggestions.
Event and investigation processes are governed through our global standards for event and investigation management (in addition to any local regulatory requirements). An event is any occurrence that has resulted in or has the potential to result in adverse impacts to people, the environment, or the local community. Events are classified on both the potential and actual consequence outcomes.
We focus on the context in which an event happened, seeking to understand how work is done and examine organisational factors to consider whether they contributed and if there are systemic level opportunities for improvement. Our key findings and actions focus on how we can strengthen controls in order to build capacity and resilience within our systems.
Near-miss and injury events with fatality potential have minimum investigation requirements based on potential event severity. This includes prescribing the method of investigation to be used in addition to identifying the requirement for a trained investigation lead and facilitator. This approach is designed to optimise learning potential and focus on the higher end of the hierarchy of control to prevent event reoccurrence and sustain improvements. Senior leaders play an instrumental role in leading investigations and positively influence our ability to share lessons and effect the changes required to operationalise learning more broadly across our organisation.
Integrated Contractor Management
Our commitment to safety includes for the many thousands of contractors who represent a large part of our total workforce.
Our Integrated Contractor Management Program is designed to make it safer and easier for contractors to work with us. Introduced in FY2020, the program is focused on building long-term mutually beneficial relationships, integrating and simplifying processes and systems, and creating an inclusive, respectful and caring workforce culture. Since its introduction, the program has standardised roles and responsibilities of contract owners and promoted improved partnerships with BHP service providers.
We undertook assurance and audit activities in FY2023, assessing controls against the global Our Requirements for Contractor Management standard and continued to use the contractor perception survey in parallel with our employee perception survey. We also did a review of the program and will transition to a more Asset-centric program.
EngagementCollaboration with our workforce is vital, so we ensure subject matter experts across our operated assets and functions are engaged in the development, implementation, and evaluation of the Our Requirements standards relevant to safety. Formal joint leadership and worker health and safety committees exist within a number of our operated assets and functions and are driven by local regulatory requirements. Those committees meet on a regular basis and general responsibilities include identifying health and safety improvements and supporting the implementation of health and safety initiatives.
While we maintain our commitment to fatality elimination and continuous improvement in safety, we are devastated that two colleagues didn’t make it home in FY2023. Through the investigations into these events, we seek to identify lessons that can be shared and applied across our whole organisation to prevent or significantly reduce the likelihood and severity of recurrence, including potential ongoing improvements to our Risk Framework and underpinning culture.
In FY2023 the highest number of injuries was related to slips, trips and falls for employees, followed by caught between object, which was the highest number for contractors, followed by slips, trips and falls.
Within BHP, we have trained and qualified personnel with specific responsibilities to manage our approach to safety.
Risk and Control owners within their operated asset or region lead the evaluation and implementation of 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 analytics and improvement, and HSE business partners support the alignment process, outcomes and governance within their respective operated asset or region.
We believe having the right controls in place to manage risks that have potential safety impacts will lead to improved safety outcomes. Our leaders support the implementation of the Our Requirements standards in order to strengthen our controls and build system capacity and resilience. Strong leadership support and engagement creates an environment where everyone feels safe to report any potential threats to their own safety or the safety of others, including supporting workers who stop a job due to a safety-related concern.
BHP’s Risk Appetite Statement is approved by the Board and is a foundational element of our Risk Framework and approach to safety. Key risk indicators are set by management to help monitor performance against our risk appetite. For more information refer to the BHP Annual Report 2023, Operating and Financial Review 8 – How we manage risk. Within BHP, fatality risks are managed in accordance with our mandatory minimum performance requirements for risk management. At a global level, we monitor and manage Group-wide performance against our risk appetite. At a local level, Risk and Control owners are accountable for the implementation and evaluation of controls to manage risks within risk appetite. Risk and Control owners are supported by the Risk, Health, Safety and Environment teams.
We have a sustained focus on managing our risks through new and existing programs of work, including:
- Fatality Elimination Program
- Integrated Contractor Management Program
- Field Leadership Program
We aim to continue to enhance the application of these programs in FY2024 and to learn and improve. We greatly value the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with others across our industry and within similar high-risk work environments. An example of this is our key role in supporting the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) in its work to encourage the development and adoption of capable solutions, across diesel particulate matter emissions reduction and the elimination of fatalities related to vehicle interaction.
We also continue to build our culture, capability and leadership through supporting the BHP Operating System (BOS) and initiatives related to inclusion and diversity, and mental health.