Gold for safety

Barrick Gold implements in-cab safety system

October 31, 2012
by Kara Kuryllowicz

From the Fleet Management October 2012 print edition

At Barrick Gold Corp, being the world’s best gold company means finding, acquiring, developing and producing quality reserves in a safe, profitable and socially responsible manner.

To help promote safety across the entire company, which has 25,000 employees and 3,000 vehicles, spanning 26 operational mines on five continents, Barrick Gold developed a three-point plan with the ultimate goal of zero employee fatalities. First and foremost, the company needed to boost awareness to increase employee safety. To reduce vehicle incidents and accident-related costs, the firm would also need to improve driving behaviours.

As a result, Barrick Gold committed to installing inthinc waySmart across its global fleet, which immediately put the focus on safety. It provides in-cab verbal coaching and audible alerts that sound when the driver exceeds the posted or manager-assigned speed limit, drives aggressively or doesn’t wear a seatbelt. Because the alerts are consistent, they encourage the development of safer behaviours which can significantly reduce the risk of an accident.

“We preferred waySmart because it is the only solution that actually talks to the driver,” says Bob Dechant, director of safety and health for Barrick Gold. “Having a voice in the vehicle, coaching in real-time, is a very effective way to get drivers to improve their habits.”

Managers can use the management portal to monitor real-time vehicle locations, driver habits and trip details. The data and insights also allow managers to reward safe drivers and identify those who may require further training.

waySmart has effectively supported Barrick’s safety culture around the world. It has helped keep employees safe by reducing unsafe driving habits and vehicle incidents. After its installation, the number of speeding violations across all Barrick sites decreased by 80 percent and vehicle incidents dropped 68 percent within the first year. As a result, crash-related costs dropped significantly, exceeding savings goals by more than 50 percent.

“inthinc has been very effective in improving driver safety,” says Dechant. “Not only did we significantly reduce our number of incidents, but we experienced a dramatic drop in accident-related costs. The service more than paid for itself within one year.”

Due to the nature of the gold-mining business, Barrick Gold employees frequently work in remote locations far from established bases. waySmart’s work-alone timer and emergency call button send alerts and distress calls from anywhere via Iridium-based satellite technology. The driver determines how long he expects a specific task to take, then sets the timer accordingly. If he doesn’t return to reset or deactivate the timer, the device sends the manager an alert, notifying him that the employee has yet to return to the vehicle. The calls can be routed to Barrick’s security or dispatch centres where personnel are able to identify the exact location of the stranded vehicle and provide a timely response.

“Our inthinc initiative promotes better drivers,” says Dechant. “It makes us aware of bad, good or otherwise stale driving habits and has had a direct impact on the cost of operating our mining sites.”