Safety Performance Safety Management Systems
We are incredibly proud of what has been achieved this year, taking into account the enlarged Group operations, significant project expansion and shut down work, the impact of COVID-19 continuing at all sites, the labour market pressures leading to a larger than normal percentage of new starters and the sheer number of worker hours involved in our underground, open pit and processing operations.
Building on our strong safety culture, FY22 has seen the business succeed in achieving lagging and leading performance improvements, notwithstanding the substantial increase in the workforce size since FY20 and the number of operations and activities within our portfolio. We focus on ensuring that both our employees and contractors at our operations understand and participate actively in all elements of our Safety Management System (SMS). This enables us to develop and improve our standards, procedures, inspections, audits and programs of work.
Safety leadership is a core expectation of Northern Star supervisors, “leading” our people and operating with the STARR Core Values at the forefront of every task we approach.
By creating environments where our people proactively question the safe systems of work to ensure adequacy, we can increase our ability to identify potential hazards in our processes before incident timelines begin. In leading the greater work groups to understand “why” processes are followed to ensure safe systems of work, our leaders can provide our people additional scope and guidance to maintain their own safety, and the safety of the people around them.
Northern Star’s new Safety Leadership Training Program was launched at our Pogo operations in June 2022, with the program rolling out to all remaining operations throughout July. The intent of this program is to provide simple and clear direction to our leaders on the array of safety tools available to them within the business, and also provide them with a critical understanding of “why” our safety tools exist. Providing our leaders with a clear understanding of how these tools also intricately make up our SMS, empowers them to utilise these tools to their full potential.
Over the course of the program, 70 leaders from all areas of the business attended the program with overwhelmingly positive feedback from all attendees. The message to our leaders that they are responsible for the ongoing safety development of their people has been a powerful and thought provoking one, and we look forward to seeing the ongoing positive effects of the program across all of our operations.
Emergency Management & Response
The SMS comprises 14 elements and sets out the key features and application of the health and safety management processes through which Northern Star establishes and assesses its commitment, objectives, plans and procedures for compliance with legislation and regulations.
The SMS operates within our overarching corporate governance documents including the Board Charter, STARR Core Values, Code of Conduct, Safety and Health Policy, Risk Management Policy and operational Cardinal Rules. The SMS applies to all sites and activities within Northern Star’s operational control.
The SMS also provides a framework for the identification, reporting and rectification of work-related hazards or hazardous situations identified by all employees and contractors using Northern Star’s HAZID (Hazard ID), STARR reporting initiatives and the INX InControl reporting database. By using this SMS framework, hazards and their rectification are documented to more effectively reduce risks to our employees. The SMS provides auditable criteria against which Northern Star’s health and safety performance, risk reduction and continuous improvement can be measured.
Health & Wellness
Northern Star has in place detailed crisis and emergency management plans which aim to prepare personnel for a range of emergency situations. Understanding the likelihood of an emergency and the potential consequences and mitigation strategies needed is at the core of our plans and structure.
Plans for foreseeable scenarios are in place and regularly audited and tested by external specialists to ensure they are appropriate. Teams at site and corporate levels undertake regular emergency scenario drills to ensure that we are prepared to respond appropriately to any real event and recover quickly after.
In conjunction with Northern Star’s emergency management system, our Emergency Response Teams (ERT) play a critical role in managing significant events and alleviating threats to life, our assets, the environment and business continuity. As such, our emergency response departments across the Company are provided with ongoing support from the corporate OHS team to ensure effective competency is maintained across the business.
Providing scenario training opportunities to our emergency response teams is a critical part of their skills development, and we actively support our teams to participate in regional emergency response competitions. In FY22 Northern Star was represented at multiple inter-company and inter-site emergency response competitions held in Perth, Kalgoorlie, and Fairbanks.
We understand that the health and wellbeing of our employees extends beyond the workplace, and we recognise that an integrated approach is necessary to ensure both their physical and mental health.
Northern Star’s integrated approach offers a practical structure to address the needs of our personnel on an individual basis. The mental and physical health and resilience of our workforce remains a priority. In addition to the support offered by our Employee Assistance Programs and the presence of our mental health first aid training employees at all sites, in FY22 we have provided dedicated resources across our sites to support and educate our teams on health and wellbeing. At each of our operations, employees and contractors are also offered opportunities and are encouraged to engage in social activities and services.
This integrated approach increases engagement and the sense of community and connectedness our employees and contractor feel whilst at work, with the overall goal of ensuring that a safe and healthy work environment is provided to all our employees, contractors and those visiting our operations
Northern Star is recognised as a Skilled Workplace in the Mental Health First Aid Workplace Recognition Program. In the last 3 years we have trained 463 people as Mental Health First Aiders, increasing our awareness and skills in supporting good mental health through Mental Health First Aid accredited training. By supporting our people to undertake this training we help them to provide timely interventions at home and at work to support good mental health with everyone they connect with. The training equips them to provide immediate assistance and encourage their colleagues, family and friends to seek professional mental health assistance as needed.
To deliver our strategy Northern Star has a clear plan to attract, retain and support the best talent. We are clear on our joint and individual responsibility to deliver, improve and make Northern Star a place we are all proud and excited to work for. Our culture is unique, and a part of the reason people choose to work for us is to be part of that culture, contribute to it and benefit from it. Our Purpose and STARR Core Values are well understood, and they guide our leaders and all our employees to create a consistent culture.
We have continued our support for employees throughout their employment lifecycle with Northern Star. This includes flexible working arrangements, individualised development plans, paying for and encouraging the use of gold sector leading parental leave, and supporting our employees' charitable pursuits with donation matching and volunteer leave. In addition, we know from the results of the November 2021 Culture Survey that our response to climate change, our social performance, and our environmental compliance matter a great deal to our employees, so we are focusing on informing and connecting our people more strongly to these areas.
The majority of our workforce are permanent full-time workers. Across our operations 93.4% of our employees at all operations are employed on a permanent full-time basis, 2.7% on a fixed term basis and only 1.5% on casual contracts. Our rate of female employment reached 23.12%. Our age demographic remains similar to previous years and our rate of residential employment has been maintained with 60% in our Pogo operations in Alaska and 90% in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.
Northern Star conducts annual culture surveys to better understand the experience and engagement of our workforce. Employee responses are collected anonymously by a third party. In November 2021 we conducted our 5th culture survey for Northern Star and the first one for our integrated business. This year’s response rate was 85% and our overall employee engagement rate is 68%. This is the highest response in Northern Star history, especially pleasing considering that for some of our newer sites, this was the first time they had been included in the culture survey.
Our culture survey measures people’s experience (what they see and hear) of the STARR Core Values, employee engagement, wellbeing, psychosocial risk factors and identifies how we can strengthen our culture. With such a strong response rate we have an excellent baseline as a foundation for assessing our ongoing effectiveness and achieving Northern Star’s strategic objectives. It helps prioritise the activities that will best support an inclusive, engaged and responsive work culture. Company-wide and site-specific action plans have been developed. This process was led by our site General Managers with the support of their management teams to recognise and celebrate strengths, as well as address areas for improvement.