In August 2004 Murray & Roberts RUC achieved not only 500,000 fatality free shifts, but has now also completed a full twelve months without a fatality.

Neil Watts, business systems manager at Murray & Roberts RUC, says that this achievement definitely says something about the level of maturity within the organisation with respect to health and safety.

“It is also significant that during this twelve month period our workload had reduced, yet the actual focus on SHEQ has strengthened,” Watts says. “And you must remember that health and safety is simply one component of the total SHEQ approach.”

An example of the type of focus being applied can be seen on the East Driefontein 5 Shaft contract where the last reportable incident occurred in September 2003. Watts says that this is especially good, given that a monthly average of 152 employees have been on this site over that period.

Another significant milestone according to Watts was the company’s success in retaining its integrated SHEQ listing during a recent external reaudit in July by UK-based National Quality Assurance (NQA). Murray & Roberts RUC is still the only mining contracting company with an integrated SHEQ listing being ISO 9001:2000, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 accreditation.

Watts explains that during an audit representatives from NQA visit head office and randomly selected sites.

The purpose is to evaluate all systems in terms of the relevant standard, and to confirm compliance as wells as implementation. The audit is normally done over a period of a week, and it is an extensive evaluation which looks at all the aspects of the business. External audits such as this are generally undertaken on a six monthly basis and this is in line with international requirements.

Watts says that during the course of this recent audit the findings that were raised were of a relatively minor nature and he believes that this proves the point that the level of maturity is such that people in the organisation are actually complying with all the SHEQ and business systems requirements.

“We believe that in many ways Murray & Roberts RUC is the leader with regard to the implementation of an effective SHEQ system, and having an integrated SHEQ listing with all three major requirements gives industry absolute confidence in our ability as a professional contractor,” Watts says.

“And this is not only in terms of being able to undertake the work, but also in that all the requisite documentation and all systems are correct and in place.”

Watts adds that although the formal implementation of the integrated system only began three years ago, following on from the original ISO 9001 listing obtained in 1999, the very nature of the organisation’s business has meant that health, safety, and quality were always seen as are an integral part of the business.

It was also three years ago that the requirements addressing the environmental issues were included in the scope of the systems, with this listing being achieved last year.

“While much can be said about the systems, we must not lose focus on the individuals within the organisation who made this possible,” Watts says. “They can and do make a positive contribution in everything they do!”