Health and wellness
Human capital includes health, knowledge, skills, intellectual outputs, motivation and the capacity for relationships of individuals
Organisations depend on individuals to function. They need a healthy, motivated and skilled workforce. Intellectual capital and knowledge management is also recognised as a key intangible creator of wealth. Damaging human capital by abuse of human rights or labour rights or compromising health and safety has direct, as well as reputational costs.
We enhance our human capital by:
- giving employees and community members access to training, development and lifelong learning and capturing and sharing knowledge
- ensuring adequate safety arrangements in both Merafe and the Venture.
- The health of Merafe’s employees and the health of the Venture’s employees and contractors, our main concern being the elimination of occupational illnesses from the workplace and health epidemics like HIV and AIDS and tuberculosis (TB)
Our policy and approach
A business needs a healthy workforce with fewer sickness absences and employees who are able to work at their full potential.
The health programmes provided by the Venture address occupational illnesses, public health issues and the overall wellbeing of its employees and contractors. It aims to eliminate occupational illness by providing workplaces free of health and hygiene hazards.
It identifies the main health issues affecting its workforce and the local communities and uses this information to address their specific health needs.
Many of the areas in which the Venture operates lack adequate public health facilities for both its employees and the communities. Wherever possible the Venture supplements the existing health facilities, usually through public-private partnerships.
Eliminating occupational illnesses
Typically, occupational illnesses such as NIHL and musculoskeletal illness are only diagnosed some time after the event that caused them. As a result, the occupational illnesses currently occurring in the Venture’s operations are usually the result of historic mining and smelting practices. The Venture conducts regular occupational health assessments of the chemical, biological, physical and ergonomic risks at its operations. These assessments help the Venture to manage the occupational health risks in its operations effectively and to minimise the impact of occupational illness through its early identification.
Employees and contractors are made aware of health issues and what they can do to avoid becoming ill. Employee representatives are members of the Venture’s formal joint management-worker health and safety committees, which monitor and advise on occupational health and safety programmes.
The Venture has identified noise-induced hearing loss as a major occupational health risk for its employees and has implemented hearing conservation programmes to counteract this risk. Any of its workers exposed to the internationally accepted noise level limit of 85 decibels or above must wear hearing protection. The equipment it provides includes variphones, which are custom-made for comfort and are 100% leak tight. Employees are trained in the use and care of this equipment.
Any employees and contractors at risk of being exposed to noise that could damage their hearing are personally monitored and regularly tested as part of our hearing conservation programmes.
Wherever possible the Venture reduces the noise from the equipment it uses in its operations to levels below internationally recommended standards using design modifications, exclusive zones and “buy quiet” programmes for new or upgraded equipment.
Our policy and approach to HIV and AIDs
HIV and AIDS is a human rights issue, which the Venture addresses through its policies and programmes. To ensure these policies are accessible to the Venture’s employees and contractors, they are available in all the languages spoken by its employees.
Employees can choose to receive HIV and AIDS counselling, care, and support. HIV-positive employees of the Venture receive the treatment they need free of charge, together with the support and education that will make it possible for them to maintain their antiretroviral (ARV) treatment programme through the membership of a medical aid.
The Venture’s HIV and AIDS policies commit it to:
- providing employees and contractors with the knowledge they need to protect themselves and their families from HIV and AIDS through workplace education programmes that explain clearly how HIV can be contracted, what can be done to prevent contracting and transferring HIV, and what should be done to enhance the quality and length of life of those who areHIV-positive
- encouraging employees and contractors to know their HIV status and providing counselling and testing facilities for them
- running HIV and AIDS campaigns that involve employees at every level of the organisation
- ensuring that every employee attends an HIV and AIDS education session during working hours, followed by an individual wellness counselling session with a healthcare provider
- ensuring that testing for HIV is voluntary and that employees are only tested for HIV and AIDS after giving their informed consent
- guaranteeing the confidentiality of employees’ medical
- providing pre- and post-test counselling for employees or contractors wishing to be tested for HIV and AIDS
- forming public private partnerships with local, provincial and national government structures in joint projects to fight HIV and AIDS in the communities in which the Venture operates
- facilitating the training of peer educators and establishing and training home-based care workers through the Venture’s corporate social investment programme. All the Venture’s occupational health nurses have been trained in the management of TB and HIV and the impact of HIV on TB. All employees that visit its occupational health clinics are screened for TB. Those whose screening tests indicate they may have TB are referred to public healthcare facilities for TB investigation and treatment.