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Health & Safety

Health & Safety

Nothing is more important to us than the health, safety and well-being of our people.

In This Section

Occupational health and safety

Occupational health & safety (OH&S) has been identified by the World Health Organization as one of the basic elements of sustainable development. At Barrick, nothing is more important to us than the health, safety and well-being of our people, and providing the safest possible working environment is our highest priority.

Mines are dynamic and complex working environments. Heavy vehicles and equipment are in continuous use to move material, and potentially hazardous chemicals are used to extract minerals from ore. Put simply, gold mining can be high risk, and failure to implement robust safety standards and procedures can result in damage to equipment, serious injury to people and even loss of life.

Highlights in 2020

79% water recycled and reused vs target of 75%

LTIFR 0.34 — a 32% year-on-year decrease

0.34 LTIFR 32% improvement on 2019

TRIFR 1.68 — a 25% year-on-year decrease

1.68 TRIFR 25% improvement on 2019

49% decrease in TRIFR and 68% decrease in LTIFR in the Latin America & Asia Pacific region

All sites certified to ISO 14001: 2015

30% decrease in TRIFR in the Africa & Middle East region

CDCs (Community Development Committees) established at all operational sites

25% of operational sites certified to ISO 45001 Subsequent to 2020, North Mara received its inaugural certification following an audit completed in February 2021.

8 independent tailings reviews conducted across 6 operational mines and 2 closure sites

6.3% decrease in malaria incidence in 2020 compared to 2019

+$4.5 billion spent with host country suppliers

11,833 voluntary HIV Counselling & Tests provided across Africa

Veladero gold mine in Argentina. Rapid Covid-19 tests were distributed to all our sites early in the pandemic to screen our employees and community members.
Veladero gold mine in Argentina. Rapid Covid-19 tests were distributed to all our sites early in the pandemic to screen our employees and community members.
Emergency response drills at Nevada Gold Mines. Keeping our employees safe is a high priority for Barrick.
Emergency response drills at Nevada Gold Mines. Keeping our employees safe is a high priority for Barrick.

Management approach

Safety is our first consideration in everything we do. We are committed to protecting all our employees, contractors and visitors on site, building a strong safety culture based on both individual and shared responsibility, and driving continual improvement in our safety performance.

Our aim is to eliminate fatalities and life-altering injuries from our operations, and to continuously reduce potential injury and health hazards on our sites. We have captured our commitment to safety through specific actions in our Occupational Health & Safety Policy, as follows:

  • Best practices and standards
    Meeting or exceeding all applicable regulatory requirements in our host countries and in the absence of appropriate legislation, using industry best practices and standards.
  • Structured approach
    Establishing and maintaining OH&S management systems that facilitate a structured approach to mitigate safety and health risks at all our managed sites.
  • Sustainable system
    Providing the leadership and resources required for an effective and sustainable OH&S management system.
  • Safety culture
    Promoting a safety culture that encourages people to proactively manage health & safety risks through education, instruction, information and supervision, thereby preventing injuries and illnesses.

Every mine has its own site-specific safety procedures, management plans and systems in place, in line with our Health & Safety Management Standard and international best practice. Through these systems we work to identify, understand, monitor and implement the safety controls appropriate to the risks present.

Our goal is for the safety management systems at all operational sites to be certified to the internationally recognized ISO 45001 standard by the end of 2021. Currently the Loulo-Gounkoto complex, Kibali and Tongon are certified to ISO 45001. North Mara received its inaugural certification in February 2021. All other operational sites are on track to achieve certification during 2021.

Key elements of our site-specific safety management systems include:

  • Risk Assessments
    Risk assessments are conducted at a site level to identify and inform personnel of the potential operational risks and the most appropriate hazard controls. Individual risk assessments are also conducted prior to any worker or team conducting a potentially hazardous or non-routine work activity.
  • Training
    Training is a crucial part of our approach to safety management. The first time anyone steps on to one of our mine sites, they are required to undergo site-specific orientation and safety induction training.
  • Monitoring
    Monitoring, includes regular internal and external audits, inspections as well as assurance reviews of our safety controls and procedures, through Leadership Safety Interactions. Our workforce is actively engaged in the reviews and encouraged to identify potential weaknesses in our controls, and to contribute to the development of additional controls.

Our Group Sustainability Executive is responsible for the implementation of our safety policies, the associated procedures and overall performance. The Group Sustainability Executive is supported by regional-level health & safety leads as well as dedicated site-level health & safety teams who drive implementation at the operational level.

Speaking of safety

After a relatively disappointing year in terms of safety in 2019, our Latin America and Asia Pacific operations made significant progress in the journey toward zero harm in 2020. The region recorded a LTIFR of 0.17 and a TRIFR of 0.76, exceeding the regional improvement goal for both measures by a substantial margin.

The cornerstone of the improved performance across the region has been better communication, and measures implemented during 2020 include:

  • Weekly safety calls – these are held between the regional safety lead and all regional operating and exploration sites, and provide a regular forum to discuss health and safety successes, challenges and emerging issues; and
  • Knowledge sharing – Flash and summary reports of incidents that occur across the group are shared with all sites. These incidents are discussed during the weekly safety calls, along with potential risk control measures for each site to prevent similar incidents occurring.

Responsibility and accountability beyond the health & safety team

Safety on site is everyone’s business. To reinforce this message and encourage safety leadership and responsibility beyond the health & safety team, during 2020 we implemented a new recordable incident and high potential incident (HPI) review system to encourage deeper analysis of the cause and potential controls.

Under the new system, after any recordable or high potential incident, the team from where the incident occurred alongside the site health & safety team, provide a report and presentation to the regional safety team regarding the incident.

The regional team provides guidance and support for the development of the presentations, the findings, and the controls introduced.

Safety training at Pueblo Viejo gold mine in the Dominican Republic. The mines in the Latin
America and Asia Pacific region were hard at work in 2020 to improve their safety scores.
Safety training at Pueblo Viejo gold mine in the Dominican Republic. The mines in the Latin America and Asia Pacific region were hard at work in 2020 to improve their safety scores.

We measure our safety performance by tracking a combination of leading and lagging indicators. Leading safety indicators include safety leadership interactions, which promote discussion of workplace health & safety between senior management and the workforce. We also track the number of HPIs reported at each site to ensure management is effectively managing near-miss incidents that have a higher risk potential. Root cause analysis is completed for all HPIs to identify potential causes and controls, and the lessons learned from these incidents are shared globally.

The lagging indicators we track are Lost Time Injuries (LTI) and Total Recordable Injuries (TRI), and we report on the respective frequency rates at a site, regional and group level. This helps us to understand the severity and frequency of any injuries that occur at our operations, to recognize trends, and to take action to focus our safety management efforts.

Safety performance is integrated into weekly, monthly and quarterly reporting. They are also discussed as a key part of weekly Executive Committee meetings, and regional operational meetings. Safety is also a key agenda item at every meeting of the Board’s Corporate Governance & Nominating Committee. Achieving our injury reduction and workplace safety improvement targets makes up a significant part of both site and group-level incentive compensation.


Overall, we saw improvements to both our TRIFR and LTIFR, with our TRIFR improving 25% from 2.24 to 1.68 year-on-year, and our LTIFR improving 32% from 0.50 to 0.34 per million hours worked. Disappointingly, this improvement was not consistent across the group. Analysis of regional performance shows the improvements at the group level were driven by significant improvements at our Latin America and Asia Pacific operations, with TRIFR and LTIFR improving 49% and 68%, respectively, for the region.

Despite these improvements, 2020 was a disappointing year in terms of safety performance due to the fatality at our Kibali mine in the DRC. The tragedy occurred underground where Mr Aurelien Mufungizi, a married father of four who worked as an underground service truck operator, became trapped between two vehicles.

One fatality is one too many and we have conducted an in-depth investigation into the incident and implemented a detailed corrective action plan to prevent a similar tragedy from recurring. Our deepest condolences go out to Mr Mufungizi’s family.

Journey to Zero Harm

Our approach to safety management is to continuously improve our performance, and our ultimate goal is to become a zero harm workplace. As part of our efforts to deliver this goal, in 2020 we rolled out our ‘Journey to Zero Harm’ initiative. Journey to Zero Harm is motivated by our belief in safe production and our vision for everyone going home safely each day. It is underpinned by the Stop Unsafe Work Authority found in our Fatality Prevention Commitments. The destination of zero harm is achieved when all personnel, across all regions and at all levels of the company consistently achieve zero recordable injuries. The initiative is focused on proactive management of safety across the company and the following key components:

  • Visible felt leadership and engagement with our workforce – We know that safety happens on the ground and not behind a desk. That is why we expect the General Manager and leadership teams of each mine to spend time everyday walking around site, observing behaviour and discussing safety issues and risks with the workforce. Each site has its own target for senior site leadership interactions.
  • Aligning and improving our standards – With three significant corporate transactions taking place across Barrick in 2019, there were a number of different safety approaches and standards to align. We have worked throughout 2019 and 2020 to review and align the standards across the group.
  • Ensuring accountability to our safety commitments and making sure our employees are fit for duty – Our focus on safety helped drive safety performance improvements across much of the group in 2020, with the group recording fewer LTIs and TRIs compared to the 2019 year, and the related frequency rates also decreasing year on year.
Odontological, ophthalmological, audiometric, dermatological and general health campaigns are carried out.
Odontological, ophthalmological, audiometric, dermatological and general health campaigns are carried out.
We source face masks from local tailors and women’s groups to supply to our employees and surrounding communities.
We source face masks from local tailors and women’s groups to supply to our employees and surrounding communities.

Occupational health

Mining and its associated processes can expose workers to a range of occupational health risks. These include respiratory problems through exposure to dust or hazardous materials, industrial deafness from prolonged exposure to loud noises from heavy machinery and drills, strain injuries from repetitive movements, and mental health issues linked to high-pressure work in often remote locations — all of which can lead to serious long term health problems if not carefully managed.

We are determined to protect our people from occupational health issues, and in 2020 all our workers (100%) were covered by occupational health & safety programs. Through our health and safety management system, we apply a systematic approach to anticipating, identifying, evaluating, controlling and monitoring occupational health hazards and exposures across all operations. Key aspects of this approach include:

  • Occupational hygiene surveys
    We conduct job specific risk assessments to understand exposure levels across all parts of our operations.
  • Engineering controls
    This is our first line of defence when a risk cannot be otherwise managed. For example, we use ventilation systems across our mines to reduce exposure to dust, gases and fumes.
  • Shift rotation
    We rotate the shifts of workers to help manage and minimize their exposure to occupational health hazards.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    We provide everyone entering operational areas of our mines with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including hard hats, high visibility clothing, steel cap boots, safety glasses, dust masks and hearing protection.
  • Regular medical checks for employees
    We conduct baseline health checks pre-employment. These are updated at regular intervals to track employee health and well-being against pre-employment levels, and to monitor effectiveness of controls in place. Checks conducted include blood tests for traces of heavy metals, hearing tests as well as respiratory and lung function monitoring. Staff regularly exposed to hazardous chemicals receive additional regular biological and radiation testing.
  • Promoting personal well-being
    We run personal health and wellness programs at many of our mines, including stop smoking, healthy eating, and fatigue awareness programs.

Covid-19: Protecting our people

Barrick has a strong culture of caring for and protecting its workforce and its communities. In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have continued to live this culture. Throughout 2020, we worked tirelessly to introduce Covid-19-specific safety protocols and the most up to date controls to help our people stay safe, and keep our mines operating. Our approach to managing the Covid-19 pandemic is informed by experience gained by Randgold through recurring outbreaks and pandemics such as two Ebola epidemics, HIV/AIDS and malaria. We follow what we call the Four Ps system:

  • Proactive – Health intelligence ensures we are aware of what is coming. Before Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic, we had already begun to implement measures to prepare our people and were engaging with local and host country governments to slow or eliminate the spread of the virus on our sites or in our communities.
  • Preparedness – We worked with our supply partners to stockpile key supplies and equipment to ensure our operations could continue should supply lines break down.
  • Prevention – We realize that prevention is better than any cure, and across all our sites we introduced strict entry protocols, hygiene and handwashing stations and encouraged regular use of hand sanitizer, social distancing measures and the strict use of masks. We also implemented shift rotations to reduce employee contacts and overlapping.
  • Perspective – We issued regular updates to all staff to ensure they were aware of the latest information, and to prevent the spread of misinformation.

Temperature screening at all access points to our sites is mandatory.
Temperature screening at all access points to our sites is mandatory.

Developing a best practice approach to biological monitoring

Arsenic is a common element in the natural environment and is frequently a significant component in gold deposits of the western United States, and is present in the underground mine at our Turquoise Ridge operations in Nevada.

Exposure to arsenic, especially over the long term, can have serious detrimental effects on human health, including cancer. To effectively understand, manage and reduce aggregate employee health risks related to occupational inorganic arsenic exposure in underground mining operations, NGM has been working with specialist Dr James Kramer and his team at Verdi Technology Inc since 2018 to develop a population-based best practice approach to urinary inorganic arsenic (IAsU) biological monitoring.

Phase 1 of the project involved a small pilot study to identify the methods for sampling and data analysis.

Phase 2 of the project involved a two-part study, where Phase 2A is an intensive subgroup study which addresses methodological and statistical uncertainties in iAsU biological monitoring. Phase 2B of the study incorporates and applies the findings from Phase 2A as a population-wide, randomized repeated measures study to refine methods for outlier identification and trend analysis, verify the aforementioned methodological analyses within a larger data set, and prescribe a long term population sampling strategy for a subsequent Phase 3 study. Phase 3 of the study began in February 2021 and will continue through February 2022 as a ‘trial run’ of the long term sampling strategy and a refinement of the processes. There have been several key findings from this study including similar exposure group reclassification verification, the most suitable urinary arsenic biomarker adjustment method, the optimal treatment for handling the less than limit quantitation values and the effects of time.