is helping to achieve an immaculate safety record at a Colombian mine
The operator South 32, a global mining company headquartered in Australia, is totally committed to it and, with the assistance of G4S, has managed an all but unheard of achievement in the industry: 1,300 days passing without any accidents or incidents taking place.
This feat is all the more impressive considering the size of the site - it runs to 4,000 hectares making it one of the largest open pit mines in Latin America - and with a workforce that can be as high as 2,000 people, once contractors are factored in.
As well as securing the mine, G4S is responsible for health and safety on site. Much of this is carried out from a control room at the mine which is always staffed by three G4S operators: one looks after the perimeter, another focuses on the internal area (operations), and a third monitors the citadel area where employees and their families live.
Juan Daza, Managing Director MSS & Risk at G4S Colombia, says: “We’ve held this contract for 13 years now which is testament to the successful working relationship we have with the client. Over time we’ve shown flexibility and have adapted as their needs have changed - for example, we’ve trained G4S staff to drive fire engines on site in order to improve response times to any emergencies.”
Control room monitoring
From the control room, G4S monitors equipment and general working conditions through a range of electronic systems, including video monitoring, access control, alarms and drones. They will intervene if they spot something that looks unsafe.
For example, if explosions are going to be used to explore new areas within the site they will confirm the area is clear first. They will also pay close attention to any restrictive areas, such as where the explosives are stored; the same goes for the furnace where materials are processed.
Ana Jaraba, G4S Project Manager at Cerro Matoso, adds: “We generate trust and credibility through timely responses to health and safety and security concerns. Our challenge is not to hold up operations - we want the client to be focused on their business and to fully trust us when it comes to security and health and safety management.”
If an operator spots a situation which raises a concern in the control room, they will communicate with the area supervisor via radio so that an intervention can be made. Before taking up their post, staff have to undergo rigorous health and safety training developed by the operator.
Juan continues: “This project demonstrates how we are able to deliver a large scale operation with limited access to staff resources - the site is a two-hour drive away from the nearest city which means we’ve had to recruit and train people from the surrounding area, some of whom are still with the company 13 years later.”
Adding to this, Ana says: “Since I joined G4S 10 years ago, I have enjoyed seeing how our employees grow professionally - and how G4S has contributed significantly to the development of the region and the surrounding communities.”