PURPOSE

Sishen Iron Ore Mine is part of the Kumba Iron Ore group inside the Anglo American Mine house. It is an open cast iron ore mine.

Although Sishen Iron Ore mine is a beacon of excellence in maintaining the highest standards of organizational health and safety measures in the mine, management decided they wanted to do more to help employees combat fatigue.

Neuro-Link was invited to consult with the mine manager on steps and actions that can be taken to prevent or minimize accidents and incidents caused by human error, reduce fatigue and reduce absenteeism from work. A survey done by industrial psychologists confirmed that first-line truck drivers and crane operators experienced an increase in:

  • fatigue
  • absenteeism from work
  • a negative mindset.

Mine management decided to initiate a Fatigue Management Project to help the first line truck drivers and crane operators to reduce fatigue as a point of departure to prevent or minimize the occurrence of incidents and accidents. They agreed on the following initiatives suggested by Neuro-Link:

  1. Brain Ergonomics assessment – assess how brain friendly the work environment and cabins are in which drivers work;
  2. LRP™ Risk brain profile assessments – assess how fatigue and stress impact workers’ neurodesign and determine neurological hindrances and their risk for error;
  3. Leadership development – supervisors and managers had to learn how stress and fatigue impact the brain’s alertness in order to make decisions and create circumstances that reduces fatigue and complement alertness. They also had to learn to understand workers’ brain profiles to support them in reducing the impact of neurological hindrances and reduce risk for error;
  4. Profile debriefing – all drivers and machine operators were debriefed on what their brain profile looks like, how they process information, whether they experience neurological hindrances during stress and fatique and what they should do to neutralize the neurological hindrance and optimize their brain performance;
  5. Fatigue management training – all managers, supervisors, drivers and crane operators where trained to understand how fatigue and stress impact their brain and what to do to reduce stress and optimize their brain performance and health;
  6. Brain fitness sequences – all managers, supervisors, drivers and crane operators were trained to execute combinations and sequences of brain fitness exercises every 90 minutes while on shift to combat fatigue and reduce stress.The exercises became mandatory to any first-line worker and became part of performance management.
ACTIONS TAKEN
  • Brain ergonomics assessment of the cabins in which the operators / drivers work, as well as the hostels where they sleep, was made to determine how humanized the cabins and hostels were. Appropriate measures was taken to humanize the inside cabins of vehicles and machinery and create hostels that are conducive for sleep and rest.
  • LRP™ Risk brain profile assessments were done on all operators, drivers, supervisors and managers to determine how they process information and identify possible neurological hindrances and risk for human error during stress or fatigue. A group report was created from the individual profiles to determine general levels of fatigue and identify tendencies and patterns that need to be addressed in the business units.
  • Leadership was trained to understand how fatigue and stress may cause neurological hindrances that will increase a person’s risk for error and cause accidents. They were also trained in solutions to reduce fatigue so they could make appropriate decisions and introduce changes and actions to create an environment more conducive for health, safety, positivity and productivity.
  • Brain profile debriefings were done with crane operators and truck drivers in order for them to understand themselves accurately and be aware of how their stress and fatigue levels and lack of sleep may cause possible neurological information processing hindrances and increase their risk for human error.
  • The Neuro-Well Program, a holistic, neuroscience approach to fatigue management (body/mind/spirit) was designed for first-line management, leadership and workers. The assessment served as the point of departure for the learning interventions as participants could refer back to their brain profiles to determine which fatigue solutions would be applicable to them personally in order to minimize neurological hindrances and reduce their risk for human error.
  • Specific sequences of brain fitness techniques and activities that would prepare the neurological system for information processing  and “switch it on” was designed for first-line operators to do every hour and a half during a shift.  These activities were also made part of performance management criteria as to ensure that they would be done.
RESULTS ACHIEVED

After above measures were taken, Neuro-Link and the company’s  industrial psychologists assessed first-line truck drivers and operators again and found the following:

  • A decrease in fatigue related incidents and accidents, which directly impacts on saving lives and preventing injuries.
  • A decrease in absenteeism of 14% which had a direct impact on productivity and performance.
  • Behavior changes in mindsets of operators and truck drivers changed from a pessimistic to an optimistic mindset which will directly impact interpersonal relationships, performance and health in the medium to long term.
  • 14th cheque bonuses, based on performance and productivity at the end of this intervention was at an all- time high as much more tons of iron ore was excavated.!
  • Neuro-Link used the same assessment (the LRP™ Risk) as a post- assessment to evaluate brain fitness levels, which improved by 22% on average.
  • First-line operators and drivers rated the intervention that Neuro-Link initiated with an evaluation that was done by using the Kirkmax programme, and they rated this intervention as 86%, which means that a highly commendable performance was achieved.
  • The first-line operators and drivers  commented that the brain fitness techniques and activities definitely contributed towards decreased fatigue and improved focus.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS CASE STUDY
  • Assessing the impact of a de-humanized work environment and taking every possible action to humanize it, reduces incidents, accidents and fatalities, but also improves brain health and performance that increases productivity and positively impact bottom line.
  • The interplay between the drivers that influence brain performance and the person’s neurological design, as illustrated in the LRP™ Risk brain profile assessment, indicates the presence of potential neurological hindrances during fatigue. The profile illustrates a person’s potential risk for human error which provides management with valuable information to understand each worker’s potential for human error and provide them with solutions to reduce risk, absenteeism, incidents and accidents and prevent fatalities.
  • For the first time a neuroscience assessment exists that helps managers and health and safety professionals determine an individual’s risk for human error and offers solutions to the manager and individual to manage and reduce it.
RECOMMENDATIONS OF EXECUTIVE AND PARTICIPANTS
  • “I have learned that some of the things that causes us to stress are minor things too.  Positive attitude works.  It’s been a good course for me.  The facilitator makes the course interesting because there must be participation, during training.”
  • “I found the course very interesting as well as an eye opener of where and when I see myself.  All levels of employees should attend this type of training sessions.”
  • “I thank Kumba for the development I got; the strong, innovative and creative person I am through the Fast Tract.  People think I make a difference in their lives, a positive influence.”
  • “If what has been learned can be applied by everyone it will definitely influence the organization and world positively.  Incorporating young generation in this course will take our country to better place.”