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Tuesday, 06 January 2015 04:32

Speech for executive director, Anglo American, South Africa

The executive director's speech about health and safety; presenting the annual H&S theme at a Global Safety Day event, written to brief for multinational mining company, Anglo American. I was responsible for research and writing.


"Khanyisile Kweyama’s Speech for Global Safety Day –29 October 2014"

Welcome and thank you for joining us as we celebrate Global Safety Day 2014. The theme for today, and for the next 365 days, is ‘’Manage Change. Stay Safe.’’ This year’s theme builds on, and advances, the other safety processes we already have in place such as SLAM (stop, look, assess, manage), ORM (operational risk management), Hazard ID in Action, and VFL (visible felt leadership).

‘’Manage Change. Stay Safe’’ was chosen after an analysis of recent safety incidents which showed that, in nine out of ten incidents, an inability to recognise and manage change was a major contributing factor. The analysis also showed that it’s not usually the change itself that causes the incident - but how well we plan for it, or react to it when it happens.

In response to these findings, and in choosing the theme, Anglo American’s global head of safety, Gareth Williams, says: “To ensure our own safety and the safety of those around us there is one question we all need to ask ourselves, what am I doing or can I do to make a difference in my working environment when it comes to identifying and managing change?” 

"Manage Change. Stay Safe’’ is a powerful message that is being shared globally today. Just like us, teams of employees and contractors worldwide, across all roles and levels, on all our mines and corporate offices, are attending Global Safety Day events today, hearing, thinking and talking about managing change to stay safe.  

I call it a powerful message because it is one that we can all relate to - both in, and out of, the workplace. Change is a constant part of our lives, it is inevitable. As South Africans we should be, and indeed in many aspects are, experts at managing change in order to stay safe. We live with and confront a constantly changing social landscape, not only in South Africa but globally. However, let’s stay local: In the words of one of our most celebrated comedians, Pieter Dirk Uys, aka Evita Bezuidenhout, ‘’adapt or die’’ is one of the ways we South Africans survive.

I am sorry to introduce such a strong word so early in the day, but loss of life is unfortunately a reality in our mining environment.

We are here to celebrate Global Safety today, but many of our colleagues are not. And that is why Global Safety Day is the most important day on Anglo American’s calendar.

We all manage change to stay safe in our daily lives – I’m sure you can all think of many examples - but I’ll give you a few of my own: an awareness of any changes in or around my home that may suggest a risk, checking my rear-view mirrors as I drive home from work, an awareness of any changes in my children and loved ones that may suggest my help is needed, I could go on and on…

But my point – and the aim of today - is not to get gloomy about the many safety risks we face. My point is - that despite our expertise in our daily lives - we need to improve how we manage change in the work place - and this requires focus and effort.

Today is an opportunity for all of us to commit to that focus and effort today, and to make it part of our daily routine. I know we are all overwhelmed with so many competing work and life tasks, but it’s not that hard –even 10 minutes a day of a focus and effort  will make a big difference – and then - anticipating, noticing and responding to changes – will become habit.

It is easy for us at the corporate offices to think ‘’Oh well, I am not actually at risk, Global Safety Day is really for the men and women working at the operations.’’ However, we all know that is not true – there are risks or hazards in the corporate workplace.

And, importantly, we are here today, in The Colonnades, and we and took a pause from that pile of ‘’’to do-s’’ on our desks –because of the men and women who work on the operations – those who, granted, do face greater risks and hazards than ourselves. We owe it to them to honour and take this day with the seriousness it deserves: to remember our colleagues – even if we never knew them – who have lost their lives or been seriously injured on the operations – and to commit to taking safety seriously.

We also owe it to ourselves, and our colleagues we do know and see every day, to honour this day, and take it seriously – once again – to commit to the day’s theme –‘’Manage change. Stay safe.’’

So, how can we do this? The programme for today – which includes an informative DVD filmed at Kolomela mine, a message from our Group chief executive, Mark Cutifani, and an interactive safety game, will go into detail about just how to manage change, and inform you about the plans in place to keep this top of mind for the year ahead, including ongoing reviews of the themes’ efficacy and progress, but I will give you a brief outline.

Five main types of change have been identified, namely: equipment change; people change; process change; operating environment change and management system change. And there are some important questions to ask ourselves. For example, which of the five types of change were most evident in recent incidents in our work areas? How good are we at anticipating and managing change? How can we improve?  What tools and resources can help us? What does our team do well and what could we do better when it comes to managing change and safety? Today is an opportunity for us to start a conversation about these issues, be it about a different noise you heard in the lift, or a ‘’wet floor’’ sign that should or shouldn’t have been placed somewhere, or something different you noticed in the parking garage, or in your office, or a concern about a colleague.

In the words of Mark Cutifani: ‘’Improving how you manage change isn’t a choice. It’s vital to protecting yourself and others from harm.”

I talk to you today in my capacity as executive director of Anglo American South Africa - but also as a colleague who faces the same daily changes and challenges you do. I talk to you as a leader - but the last message I would like to leave you with is this - we are all leaders when it comes to managing change to stay safe. We all ‘lead ourselves’ - today - and for the rest of the year. We can also all look out for our friends and co-workers - taking the lead if we see an opportunity where we can help someone else to avoid harm by managing change. And please, over the coming year, share the work you are doing, and the success you are achieving in managing change more effectively, via the Global Safety Day space on Eureka! - so we can all learn from each other.

No action is too small. We all have the power to manage change to stay safe. Let’s use it.

Thank you to (any organisers who need to be acknowledged)

(To audience): And thank you for taking your time to participate in Global Safety Day, and enjoy the day’s activities.

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Robert Colman

Call: 0420 528 575 | Email