Français Português Español

Follow AEL Mining Services

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn YouTube


Safety and Health

In caring for its people, customers and environment, AEL Mining Services is firmly committed to ensuring that all its activities are conducted safely to minimise risk to employees, contractors and the public.

AEL’s activities are widespread, and because of this, the group's exposure is diverse, examples of which include mining related and road safety issues, manufacturing of initiating systems, bulk explosives, chemicals and explosives, as well as general engineering activities.

With 17 businesses in the AEL group, there is a strong focus on standardisation throughout the organisation and an overall alignment of best safety and health practices.


AEL embraces a safety culture throughout the group, and strives towards exemplary performance in the safety and health fields, including the development, manufacture, storage, distribution, testing, destruction and use of explosive initiating systems, bulk explosive and nitrogen based chemicals.

As a leading explosives company in Southern Africa, and one of the leaders in the world, AEL works in close co-operation with external organisations and experts, promoting and maintaining open and constructive dialogue with employees, local communities, regulatory agencies, business organisations and any other affected or interested parties. AEL also utilises expert opinions, including auditing of current safety and health regimes and systems, as well as advising key role players on improving current safety and health programmes.

Workplace Safety


AEL works on a Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR), which includes all fatalities, lost time and non-lost time injuries, but excludes first aid injuries. Exemplary performance in safety and health includes the reduction and management of injuries - the main objective remains no injuries to anyone, ever!

AEL ended 2009 with a TRIR of 0.58 ( blue bar ) and improved from a 2008 rate of 0.73. AEL reduced the upper limit from 1.0 to 0.70 in 2002 and reduced the TRIR upper limit even further in 2005 to only 0.60.


AEL also reduced the total number of recordable injuries to a total of 22 from a total of 25 in 2008 and experienced zero fatalities in 2009, as well as zero occupational illnesses for the full year of 2009.

Contractor Safety

Contractor safety and health within AEL receive the same attention as employees' safety within all business units. Robust education with emphasis on rules and induction include an annual re-training of all contractors operating on its sites.

Contracting companies also get audited externally to ensure that they conform to set AEL standards and applicable legislation. Contractor meetings are also part of the programme, which and take place quarterly to ensure all contracting companies are aligned to changes and new initiatives from a health and safety perspective.

Analysis of serious accidents

AEL focusses on serious accidents by conducting a thorough investigation of all recordable injuries, which includes fatalities, lost time and non lost time recordable injuries, with the inclusion of all first aid injuries from 2009. AEL is also embarking on the full implementation of an incident recall system to ensure all learning captured from previous incidents are recalled to ascertain measures are still in place to prevent a similar incident from happening again.

New group safety standardisation

AEL embarked on a standardisation programme during 2009 to align standards and guidelines within all business units. The AEL World Class system will consist of numerous pillars of which health and safety will be one. The electronic unusual occurrence reporting system will also mean that AEL will have access to all related health and safety information per site, which will be applicable worldwide and due for implementation in 2010.

Managing Technological risk

  • Education Resources
    Health and Safety education within the group is of utmost importance and employees, contractors, temporary employees and even the public receive training on an ongoing basis within the health and safety fields.
    Business units within AEL conduct various training programmes and include but are not limited to:- risk assessment, basis of safety, legal requirements, first aid, health and safety representative, confined space entry, clearance or permit to work, behavioral safety, Take 5, and more.
  • education-resources

  • Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Policy

    Download the attached PDF to read about AEL's Occupational Health and Safety Policy.
  • Managing risks through fundamental skills
  • AEL intends to focus on the overall safety principles and fundamental skills in 2010. The injuries sustained during 2009 clearly showed a lack in operational discipline, coupled to committing unsafe acts and not clearly thinking about the impending tasks. Safety principle education programmes will be rolled out per business unit in 2010 to up the bar in this area.

  • Safety Management Systems
    • AEL currently operates under two main systems:
      World Class and 20 Keys.
      World Class includes the following main pillars
    • Presentation, SHE, Quality, Maintenance, Internal Controls, Customer Focus and Training.
    • Business units that use this system include South Africa, International, Africa and Business Services.
    • The 20 Keys system is used by Central Operations, Research & Development, and initiating systems manufacturing
  • Risk analysis and risk reduction measures
    • AEL recognises that risk should be identified and mitigating factors should be put in place sooner rather than later. To this effect, AEL uses various systems including but not limited to: hazard operability studies, formal risk assessments and the Take 5 Hazard Assessment Tool.
    • AEL has recently embarked on rolling out the Take 5 Personal Risk Assessment methodology, which mainly focusses on tasks or jobs which are out of the norm. Individuals then use the methodology to ascertain the risks. The 5 step hazard assessment tool makes an individual think through the task, foresee the hazards and eliminate or manage them, assess the remaining risk and ultimately do the job safely.
    • take-5 Hazard Assessment Tool

  • Security, Emergency Planning and Response
    • At AEL, we are committed to protecting our people and facilities in ways that also respect the human rights of the communities in which we operate. We have company-wide security standards that define how we do this. They include the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. AEL Modderfontein is classified as a National Key Point and we need to comply to set legislation at all times.
    • Emergency Planning and Response within AEL is of the utmost importance and systems are in place to ensure conformance to set legislation. Emergency plans are in place at all sites and exercises are conducted on an annual basis to ensure conformance.
    • An annual major exercise is conducted at Modderfontein, South Africa as the Nitrates Complex is classified as a major hazardous installation. Various scenarios are used and include the involvement/support of the local traffic and police departments, fire and emergency services, disaster management, responsible care group, members of the community, as well as key role players within AEL.


Caption: A recent major annual exercise at AEL.
  • AEL Big 5
    • In order for AEL to understand the causes of injury, AEL has identified what is referred to as the Big Five.
    • The Big Five injury categories include: Impact Injuries, Loss of Balance Injuries, Explosions and Fires, Chemical Handling Injuries and vehicle related injuries. The total number of recordable injuries for 2009 could be slotted into the Big Five which clearly proves that our focus for 2010 will remain on establishing and implementing systems to address those.

Example of AEL Big Five Graph for 2009


Strong focus on the Big 5 in 2010

Employee Health

Safeguarding employee health

  • Occupational illness tracking and reporting
    • This is done after confirmation of the diagnosis by an occupational medicine doctor. Sometimes other specialists e.g. pulmonologists, ear nose and throat specialists or dermatologists are also consulted. Similarly to accidents in the workplace, investigations are performed to identify the root cause and advise on prevention technologies, such as engineering changes or Personal Protective Equipment (PE). All confirmed cases are reported to the company, as well as to the COID office.
  • Evaluation of workplace risk
    • Health risk assessments, occupational hygiene measurements and plant walk-through surveys are performed on all plants on a two yearly basis as per the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act.
    • A formalised programme is in place identifying, evaluating and pertinently controlling these risks. Findings are built into the non conformance system of plants in order to close them out.
  • Executive Medical Program
    • Senior Managers and above are invited to attend a risk based medical examination on an annual basis. Medicals are done on a voluntary basis. Health risks, such as high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes are identified and individually treated and addressed. Life style changes and chronic medication play a big role in the management of such risks.
  • Health care
    • This is primarily provided through the medical scheme benefit package. Acute and chronic medication, hospitalisation, pathology laboratory and radiology benefits amongst others are available to members. HIV/AIDS benefits are also available through the Aid for AIDS programme. Accident at work cases and Occupational illnesses cases, such as dermatitis and occupational asthma are treated through the company's occupational health programme.

Managing the risks related to AEL products

  • Chemical Substances
    • A medical surveillance programme is in place whereby all employees in the workplace who are exposed to such chemicals receive targetted medical examinations. Tests performed as part of these medical examinations are determined dependant on the potential toxicity of the pertinent chemicals. Controls to minimise the risk, for example, ventilation extraction systems on the plants, are continuously monitored and upgraded when required.
  • User Information
    • Available in Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) form, as well as on the product data sheets. MSDS of all our products are available on the AEL Intranet. Prior to accepting such a MSDS onto the Intranet, it is screened by a team of specialists in this field.

Supporting personal and community health

Fighting the HIV/AIDS Pandemic

An AEL Wellness Committee oversees the HIV/AIDS programmes for the company. It is made up of HR and SHE practitioners, as well as union representatives. This Committee meets four times a year and new objectives are set annually which are monitored on an ongoing basis. The Champions of Wellness (COW) programme is managed as a subset of these objectives. Every year a soccer tournament is held on World AIDS day where various soccer teams in AEL compete for the Nkosi Johnson trophy.

  • Champions of Wellness Programme (COW)
    • Individuals receive training to become peer educators and counselors in order to assist fellow employees in the company. These individuals do this on a voluntary basis. They are trained to focus on all wellness issues which could impact on an individual’s health. Except for personal intervention, they also do health education talks to groups in the workplace on issues such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, hypertension, basic sanitation, healthy lifestyle and eating practices etc.
  • Malaria
    • Cerebral malaria is still is the major cause of deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. Business travelers to malarias areas are expected to take anti-malaria prophylaxis.
  • Safety and Health Structure
    • All business units within AEL Mining Services have dedicated employees focussing on SHEQ systems and programmes.
    • The Group Health and Safety Manager reports directly to the Managing Director of AEL.

Contact Name: Henry Merrick
Tel: +27 11 606 0219
Email: Henry Merrick