Five of the 13 companies that recorded no fatalities had above-average Total Recordable Injury Frequency Rates. (Chart: ICMM).

In 2022, 33 fatalities occurred across the International Council on Mining and Metals’ (ICMM) 26 company members, according to the council’s recently published Safety Performance Report. This number compares to 45 in 2021 and 44 in 2020. Overall, in 2022, the total hours worked increased by 5.7% compared to 2021, while there was a 26% decrease in the number of incidents that resulted in a fatality. The Fatality Frequency Rate (FFR) has therefore reduced from 0.017 to 0.012 for the same period.

Data shows that there were two incidents that resulted in more than one fatality, which is less than in all previous years. Moreover, 50% (13 of 26) member companies were fatality free in 2022; the highest percentage since 2019.

In 2022, the highest number of fatalities (nine) occurred through mobile equipment incidents. This is less than the 12 mobile equipment related fatalities recorded in 2021, but higher than those recorded in 2020 and 2019. Of these nine fatalities, 55% occurred underground.

The hazard posed by vehicles in the industry transcends geographical boundaries and is not mined-commodity specific. Through the collaborative Innovation for Cleaner Safer Vehicles initiative, ICMM members are working in partnership with OEMs and technology suppliers to eliminate fatalities resulting from vehicle interactions.

The next highest cause of fatalities (five) is ‘falling objects.’ This is the highest number of falling object-related fatalities since 2017. Falling object fatalities should be preventable by removing hazards from the work area, or with effective controls.

Overall, 61% (20) of all fatalities in 2022 were in ‘other process’ areas (for example, milling and leaching plants etc.), 33% (11) underground and 6% (2) in open pit environments. For four years, since 2017, underground has been the main location of fatalities (excluding the Brumadinho tailings dam collapse in 2019) and 2022 recorded the lowest percentage of underground fatalities. This correlates with the reduced number of fall-of-ground-associated fatalities.

As far as injuries, there was a 3.2% decrease in the number of total recordable injuries from 7,355 in 2021 to 7,126 in 2022. The overall injury rate (total recordable injuries per million hours worked) decreased from 2.90 in 2021 to 2.66 in 2022. The overall injury rate has consistently decreased every year since 2015.

Notably, five out of the 13 companies that recorded no fatalities had above average (and in some cases considerably higher than average) Total Recordable Injury Frequency Rates (TRIFRs). The report drew the conclusion that understanding how the TRIFR indicators influence behavior in an organization is critical. By adopting a high standard of operating and reporting of injuries, a company is emphasizing the importance of proactive risk management to its employees, which builds on a positive safety culture for early intervention.

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