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Safety Q&A: William A. Henott, Health & Safety Manager, Los Bronces, Chile

For William A. Henott, safety is a passion that has been passed down from his father, helping prepare him for his current career. In this Q&A, we talk to him about his role as health and safety manager at our Los Bronces copper operation in Chile and what we can expect from Global Safety Day 2015 – Anglo American’s group-wide safety programme, now in its fourth year – this October.

How did you become interested in safety?

I remember when I was a teenager and my father began work in the mining industry. He adopted a personal attitude of safety in everything he did and this quickly filtered down to us, his children.

That's why, when I was old enough to enter the world of work, of course I wanted to specialise in safety. And that’s what I did.

I’ve learnt many lessons along the way. At first I was convinced that I could fully control the risks for employees until, in one of my previous roles, a colleague lost their life.

Witnessing the suffering of the family and co-workers was the hardest experience I've ever had to deal with, and it made me realise that safety needs to be a prime concern for all of us, not just those who specialise in it professionally.

What’s the core message at the heart of Anglo American’s approach to safety?

Our employees are the heart of our organisation and we must not take unnecessary risks that threaten their safety. Our key priority is that they return safely to their homes and those they care about every day after work.

We know that mining will always carry risk, but we’re working towards the goal of Zero Harm which means never experiencing serious injury or loss of life.

We know what the biggest risks are and we’re putting improved processes, standards and new technologies in place to ensure effective management and control.

Staying safe is a way of life and it takes collaboration and teamwork to achieve it across the organisation.

What has been a key safety project that you’ve worked on?

At Los Bronces, we are developing a process for making sure that the critical controls needed to keep people safe are integrated into their daily safe working instructions. We have done this by taking the critical controls – identified through performing an analysis on each of their top 20 critical risks – and including what they are, and how they must be used, into a set of simple working procedures that supervisors and operators must follow. This includes prompts to check that each of the critical controls is working before work commences.

A simple but practical solution to ensure controls are properly understood and used right at the frontline.

Safety controls are designed to protect people from getting killed or hurt. They are systems that can be very simple or slightly more technical, but ultimately are in place to protect people’s lives – not only their own, but also those they love and care about.

What can we expect from Global Safety Day this year?

Global Safety Day is our annual, year-long programme that seeks to strengthen commitment to safety throughout our organisation. It involves everyone at every level and focuses on a specific area we want to improve. This year we are looking closely at the importance of critical controls and how to further enhance understanding of them and their use.

Our ultimate aim is to achieve a safe future for Anglo American – one where everyone who works for us is not exposed to unnecessary risk. That’s why we continue to devote huge amounts of energy and effort to building a strong safety culture, improving our processes and infrastructure and introducing automation projects that eliminate the risk to human life.

Learn more about our approach to safety.

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