Interview: Operational Safety at Ferrexpo

Natalia Storozh, Poltava Mining Health & Safety Director

How do you work to ensure a strong safety culture at Ferrexpo?

"We are constantly looking for the best ways of promoting safe working conditions for both employees and contractors at our sites. In 2021, we adopted ISO 45001:2019 at our operations which has since resulted in a 24% increase in the reporting of hazards in 2022. ISO 45001 is an international standard for health and safety at work, which aims to, amongst other things, reduce workplace incidents and absenteeism, create a culture whereby employees are encouraged to take an active role in health and safety, and reinforce leadership commitment to occupational health and safety."

How is Ferrexpo using technology and innovation to overcome occupational safety challenges?

"We aim to remove our employees from hazardous working environments wherever possible through modernisation of equipment and processes. By mechanising a particular process, as well as providing the appropriate training on new production systems and equipment, we can remove the direct risk to employee safety."

Given the ongoing war in Ukraine, what is Ferrexpo doing to protect its employees?

"With over 95% of our 10,000 employees in Ukraine, our priority as a business over the last 14 months has been to take numerous measures to protect their safety and wellbeing. Measures for our on-site workforce have included the provision of air-raid shelters and adjusting shift patterns around curfews.

Despite the focus on the war in Ukraine, we are proud that our operations teams managed to record another year of excellent safety performance. Our lost time injury frequency rate – the primary measure for assessing how safe a workplace is for its employees – which was 0.51 for 2022, continues at a level materially below both our own historic average and over 50% lower than Ferrexpo’s iron ore producing peers in Western Australia, which saw an LTIFR of 1.1[1]Our operations remain fatality-free into our third year running and we continue to strive towards a zero-harm working environment.

We have also supported our employees who are currently serving in the Armed Forces of Ukraine by providing personal protective equipment and other non-lethal equipment. In addition to this, we remain focused on the wellbeing of our communities and provide direct support via the Ferrexpo Humanitarian Fund, with over US$19 million of humanitarian aid provided to date.

Do you have initiatives to protect the mental wellbeing of your people?

Yes, we have a wellbeing programme which aims to promote a positive working environment at Ferrexpo, with a number of initiatives in place to promote sustainable lifestyles and encourage mental health and mindfulness.

However, as the war enters its second year, we are also very mindful of its impacts on the wellbeing of our workforce. As such, we offer psychological and emotional wellbeing support to our employees. We have also implemented remote working for those with suitable roles and have introduced on-site childcare to ensure that children of our staff can continue to learn and play together, in a safe environment, despite the restrictions of the conflict.

(Dated: 28 April 2023)

[1] Source: Government of Western Australia.