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Safety Q&A: Lynda Butler, Safety Officer, Coal Australia

Safety is a core value at Anglo American and is integral to all of our activities. In this Q&A, we talk to Lynda Butler about why she embarked on a career in safety, and what we can expect from the Global Safety Day 2015 - Anglo American’s group-wide safety programme, now in its fourth year - this October.

AA: Could you tell us how you became interested in safety?

LB: After suffering a family tragedy related to a road accident, I have experienced first-hand the effect that a fatality has. Some years after this event, I was exposed to a workplace fatality. I was once again able to see the effect of this event on the family members, community and the workforce. The consequences are not fleeting – they loom over all those affected like a dark cloud for a very long time. My interest in safety began when I realised I could play a small part in trying to stop work place incidents and accidents, therefore spare others from experiencing this type of loss. 

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

LB: I think the Anglo American vision says it all: “Our vision is to achieve Zero Harm through effective management of safety in all our managed operations.  We cannot accept that people may be injured while working for us”.  

I think this is something that we must continue to strive for every day and in every way that we can. We need to look out for ourselves and others in the workplace to ensure that we all go home safe and well. We can all do this by actively participating in safety interactions, Visible Felt Leadership (VFL) activities (in-the-moment coaching conversations focused on safety) and conducting safety conversations with our peers.

AA: What has been your safety highlight while working at Anglo American?

LB: I have been very fortunate to work within safety teams at Coal Australia for the past 10 years. I have been able to see the safety programmes and strategies be implemented successfully at our sites. Some of these include VFL concepts, introduction of safety leadership programmes, identification and reporting on High Potential Hazards (HPHs).

AA: What is your top safety priority for this year?

LB: This year my area of focus is the Operational Risk Management Programme – a project to help us improve how we manage all types of operational risks. I am part of the implementation team and have been systematically visiting the Coal Australia sites to conduct familiarisation sessions for key personnel such as safety teams, risk owners and control owners – those people responsible for effective implementation of measures to protect employees. Our risk owners and control owners are the key people charged with leading our Operational Risk Management Program at a site level. These people are monitoring our critical controls, and providing a level of assurance that our priority unwanted safety events do not come to light.

These sessions include familiarisation of the Enablon and Bowtie XP systems, the two software applications that are in use at our sites to develop bowtie risk assessments (diagrams that provide a detailed visualisation of risk situations in a single picture), identify critical controls and then record the outcome of monitoring activities.

I am very proud of the work that Coal Australia has completed in Operational Risk Management this year. I know there is a long way to go, and further embedding will follow as we progress the management of critical controls.

AA: What can we expect from Global Safety Day this year?

LB: The focus for this year's Global Safety Day is the role controls play in protecting and keeping us safe. Before, during and after the day on 7 October, Anglo American employees are exploring and learning more about controls in the workplace, so everyone has a good understanding of the process and the importance of identifying, monitoring and improving controls. 

Learn more about safety at Anglo American.

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