Gold mines are rarely as conveniently located as supermarkets or general office buildings, therefore they require long distance commutes to and from the area of operations and main mining or production areas. This means that the gold mining entity’s greatest value/yield individuals are frequently commuting back and forth from their usual home domicile and the remote workplace environment of a gold mine. This journey can be a few hours or take days, involving numerous modes of transport and transiting via multiple countries. It is therefore always concerning if not unbelievable that more journey risk management goes into road moves in and around the site, journeys of just a few kilometres and other localised transportation, with the commute back and forth almost entirely overlooked as some magical process whereby people are protected at either end of the journey, with the middle portion just a fact of life when working on a gold mine. Even more concerning is the “rights of passage” where junior/new staff aren’t considered seasoned veterans in the gold mining industry until they too have a long list of travel horror stories, dramas and near miss events to recite at the next BBQ.
Millions of dollars is often invested in optimisation of vehicle movements and the maintenance of safety, inclusive of systems such as “in-vehicle-monitoring-systems” [IVMS] where everything from the speed of the vehicle to the angle in which it is driving at or stationary is recorded and transmitted back to a monitoring system or notification system in the event of breach, emergency or accident. Sometimes, despite the investment, these systems are nothing more than theatrics without management’s desire or capacity to monitor the systems, therefore violations are never even noticed nor followed up. However, for those that do commit to the system and the culture, these monitoring systems are invaluable for ensuring safety and road movements are conducted within a safe or regulated environment. The investment is well spent and value is derived from its use, whilst protecting human capital/people.
Journey Management Plans [JMP] are routine on many sites inclusive of detailed notation of road movement contained on a predetermined form and submitted for review, approval, and activation. It is not unheard of for FIFO [fly in fly out] operators mandating that all travellers, even if on a weekly rotation, complete these JMPs for every single employee. This means that a site can be producing hundreds if not thousands of JMPs per week, often still using paper or PDF formatting. Rarely are the individual reports reviewed or scrutinized, it is just another form of theatrics to keep some people or departments busy or demonstrate to management that “they care”. For sites that are less overburdened by JMPs, preserving the process for its original intent and ensuring that road movements are actually reviewed and planned in detail, JMPs are essential to managing safe people movement. Automation and personalisation are even more efficient and effective.
Travel is typically managed by a junior staff member, maybe even someone’s assistant. This junior staff member might have worked in the travel industry prior but it is generally just another one of dozens of tasks they are assigned as part of their role. There might be a travel management company involved but they are selected on cost containment and being “cheap” first and foremost. All up, cost efficiency and policy compliance are their primary roles, regardless of how exclusive of travel safety management policy/ies may be. It may even be well-rehearseded process, whereby employee A needs to travel, the past few travel bookings are simply updated and applied, with no consideration for any safety or risk management factors. Why is it that despite fully developed and functioning safety departments on gold mining or extraction sites, journey risk management is so poorly considered and managed? Beware the individual that was the CEO’s assistant one week and now the group travel manager overseeing a budget of millions of dollars of travel expenditure each year! No amount of “travel industry conferences” will fix their lack of experience and safety management understanding.
Journey risk management is not a new nor exotic concept or solution. It is merely an extension of what is already applied in great detail and frequency across the rest of the gold mining entity. If done correctly, it also segments value or contribution, not merely a “one size fits all” policy. This means that higher value/contribution based individuals require elevated or customised journey risk management methods. Not dissimilar to when less experienced individuals require greater oversight, induction and training before working alone. In addition to customised travel documentation, the traveller should also have their own customised travel safety and risk management resources and considerations. Policy statements that restrict how many senior managers are permitted to travel on the same plane stemmed from some of these concepts, although most have forgotten the reason or thinking behind it in the first place.
Journey risk management is not:
- One size fits all
- Handing tickets and passports to a person and telling them “have at it”
- Undocumented nor intuitive
- Limited to the point of departure or arrival
- Limited to ground or air transportation
- Generic and applicable to all travellers at all times
- Ignoring data and metrics such as disease, speeding
- A newspaper like subscription with alerts, daily and weekly updates
- Sending personnel on a 12-18 hour road moves because it is cheap in a country where road accidents are 300-600% more likely and lethal than your country of origin
Productivity and profitability of some gold mining entities have been won and lost on the talent that manages the gold mining enterprise. The value of the individual, the value they contribute and the potential for loss or disruption should be powerful motivators for inclusion in an enterprise risk management process.
Here is a quick test to determine if you have journey risk management or safety theatrics in place. If you have 10 people travelling at the same time, via the same route and even to the same location and they all have exactly the same documentation, resources or even safety briefings and rating…..you DON”T have journey risk management in place, you have theatrics.