Alongside safety, occupational health is a major part of our commitment to zero harm. Employee health is essential to the effectiveness of our operations, and to the well-being and participation of employees in their local communities.
Noise-induced hearing loss, musculoskeletal disease, exposure to respirable hazards, and HIV/AIDS are our top health risks.
We protect our people by managing these key risks through, for example, our hearing conservation, respiratory protection, musculoskeletal protection, and fatigue management programmes. We review our occupational health risks annually as part of our Operational Risk Management process.
Our approach to occupational health is guided by the Health Way and associated technical standards and our Good to Great strategy. The De Beers Occupational Health Policy outlines our approach in this area.
Our Health Peer Group met five times in 2016 to share good practice across three areas of occupational health – occupational medicine, occupational hygiene and employee wellness. Significant areas of discussion included reducing employee exposure to health hazards; HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis management; and aligning health risk management with De Beers’ operational risk management process.
De Beers’ presence in southern Africa means that the threat of HIV/AIDS is an everyday fact of life for our employees and people living in the communities around our operations.
We launched our first HIV/AIDS initiative in Debswana in 2001. Today, we still go beyond compliance to deliver an advanced programme built on four pillars: prevention, treatment, care and support. Overall, our efforts to reduce the direct impact of HIV/AIDS in our business have been effective, but we still have a long way to go.
Fifteen years ago, the prevalence of HIV among employees stood at 29 per cent. Today, that figure is 11 per cent, which compares favourably with the national prevalence rates of 19.2 per cent (South Africa), 13.3 per cent (Namibia) and 22.2 per cent (Botswana).
We are committed to driving down still further the rate of infection among our people. One tool we use is the World Health Organization’s 90 90 90 ‘Know your Status’ campaign. This means we aim for:
While the proportion of employees knowing their status rose from just 26 per cent in 2015 to 82 per cent in 2016, we still have further to go.