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KGHM focus on safety

The work safety management system is based on the concept of continuous assessment and verification of functioning procedures (orders, instructions and arrangements), the application of which eliminates or limits risks and reduces the consequences of their materialisation. This refers, inter alia, to the number of accidents at work, occupational diseases, as well as potential accidents and breakdowns.


Each division of the Company has a certified work safety management system and services responsible for OHS (at KGHM Polska Miedź S.A., 44 persons in total are responsible for these matters). OHS issues are regulated by as many as 16 internal procedures. In the nearest future – as a part of the Integrated Management System at KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. – work safety management will also be included in a uniform system, complying with the PN-N 18001/OHSAS 18001 standard.

Having certified systems allows to:

  • keep a system of loss evaluation (breakdowns, accidents at work),
  • record potential accidents,
  • risk analysis,
  • develop the system for reporting, recording and responding to OHS-related comments and motions of employees,
  • create a job review system,
  • implement the continuous staff training process,
  • include professional risk management and work safety matters in the regular employee training.

The system of training courses for employees, to which the Company pays special attention, is of key importance in the context of OHS activities. Active courses using multimedia recordings of the whole technology process and individual positions are a recent innovation. 47 095 hours were allocated for regular OHS training courses at KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. Training courses are carried out on a regular basis and their frequency depends on the position and its related risks. Annual plans of work conditions improvement and meetings pertaining to safety at mining plants, with the participation of representatives of the Regional Mining Authority in Wrocław, arranged by divisions, are also aimed at increasing the safety level.

During the last 15 years, the number of accidents was significantly limited and accident ratios considerably improved (accident seriousness index and frequency). Systematic limitation of emission of agents harmful to health, reduction of employment in conditions harmful to health, as well as access to state-of-the-art personal protection equipment introduced after obtaining the approval of division staff and the Occupational Health and Safety Commission resulted in a reduction of occupational disease incidence.





Employees working in conditions of danger due to harmful factors related to the working environment (2010) Number of people Percentage share


5 600 44.8%
industrial dust 2 126 17.2%
vibration 1 746 13.2%
hot microclimate 3 422 27.3%


Better quality and an extended scope of preliminary and regular health checks at Miedziowe Centrum Zdrowia S.A. has also had a significant impact on conditions of the health of employees. OHS matters were the subject of the special research programme “Reasons of balance disturbances at underground employees at copper mines in the context of the at-work accident ratio” carried out by MCZ. At the same time, in order to identify the impact of difficult conditions in the working environment on employees working at mining plants, since 1996, comprehensive medical checks of miners in actual conditions have been conducted together with measurements of the microclimate in the working environment.

In 1996, 2002 and 2008, “Analyses of staff attitudes to work safety at the Mining Divisions of KGHM Polska Miedź S.A.” were carried out in order to check the level of safety culture among employees, as well as any relationship with the number of accidents at mining plants. These analyses were undertaken by the Central Mining Institute in Katowice. In 2012, this analysis will be repeated.

Number of accidents by the accident place  2010  2011
Mining divisions 450 391
Surface divisions 106 76


Number of accidents at KGHM  2010  2011
Total 556 467
Fatal 10 2
Serious 5 4
Number of days lost 28 915 25 667

Air-conditioning is a must

In order to improve OHS conditions at mining plants, where natural risks dominate, and at smelters, the Company carries out certain projects. They are included in OHS condition improvement plans, on an annual basis. When implementing these investments, the Company cooperates with science and research centres, specialising in work safety. In the process of gradual modernisation of equipment, an increasing number of machines are equipped with additional security systems. At mining divisions at KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. there are 1 289 mining machines in total. Annually, more than 200 new machines are purchased and in the years 2007–2011, the replacement ratio was 17%. 154 machines are already equipped with life-saving capsules protecting the machine operator during potential accidents, i.e., rock bursts, roof and wall slides. Meanwhile, 339 machines have been equipped with life-saving capsules with a hatch, which allows to free the operator during the rescue operation after roof or wall slides. Due to climate conditions at headings, cabins at 320 machines are air-conditioned, which improves operator working comfort, while almost 100 cabins have air blown in. All machines are equipped with a fixed fire extinguishing system, and 862 machines now have an automatic fire extinguishing system. Fifty-five low-profile vehicles are equipped with an automatic fire extinguishing system with a secondary system for extinguishing fire that cannot be put out at the initial stage; cameras facilitating secure movements and operations are also installed at these vehicles.

One of the major challenges related to work safety is climate risk which determines the safety of miners and ability to continue exploration works. The original temperature of rocks, increasing together with the depth of the explored parts of the bed, as well as machines and equipment with increasing power used, result in the growth of air temperature at headings. This requires using devices which protect against this risk, such as:

  • a central air-conditioning system, allowing air-conditioning at mining divisions, heading works and functional chambers,
  • forehead air-conditioning machines – cooling the stream of air fed to the place of work during heading works,
  • a position air-conditioning system – built-in on self-propelled machines, dump points, belt conveyor drives, etc.,
  • a personal air-conditioning system – to be used by groups of employees at mobile positions, outside mining divisions.

These measures presently allow to maintain required climate conditions at the depth below 1 100 m and continuing works in the most difficult areas, with six-hour shifts. The “Programme for position air-conditioning systems at Mining Plants at KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. for the years 2010–2015”, includes subsequent steps aimed at the improvement of OHS at mines. In addition to installing air-conditioned cabins on all self-propelled machines, the installation of individual air-condition stations at dumping points and belt conveyer drives, construction of air-conditioned rest chambers (group air-conditioning), introduction of air-conditioned vehicles for repair squads and transport of staff, as well as increase of personal air-conditioning systems for groups of employees working on mobile positions are also planned.

In 2011, the programme of tests of technical measures of the “Personal Air-Conditioning System” started, the purpose of which is testing measures of protection against thermal risk available on global markets and their adaptation to climate risk conditions at mining plants at KGHM Polska Miedź S.A.

Successful unit

The elite Emergency Rescue Unit (ERU) is the pride of the Company. Its members fight the dangers of fire and floods, crumps, falls of roof and complex breakdowns. They often work in extreme conditions – under water and in vertical shafts. Copper rescuers always try to help when human life or health is at risk. Prior to 2011, they had participated in more than 200 operations. The Emergency Rescue Unit employs a permanent staff of 114 people. In addition, the unit has at its disposal more than 400 rescue personnel who serve on rescue teams.

The ERU comprises three departments:

I.  The Fire Fighting Unit at Głogów smelter, specialising in
    fire and chemical rescue operations,


II.  The Fire Fighting Unit at Lubin mine, specialising in fire
     and technical rescue operations (a branch

     of this department is located at Legnica smelter)

III. 1st Mining Emergency Ambulance Service (MEAS)
      in Sobin.

The Mining Emergency Ambulance Service participates in operations at mining plants of the Company. There are only 23 employees of this service working based on employment contracts, while trained miners, normally working at mines and delegated for eight-hour shifts from their divisions, are the core of rescue teams. Teams on duty include: 15 rescuers, including two paramedics, the head of the team, rescue equipment mechanics, a rescue physician, two drivers of specialised vehicles and the shift manager.

The MEAS also has specialised rescue teams. The underwater rescue section was established as early as 1967. The first basic course for divers was held in May in the same year. The first call out took place on 22 February 1967 and related to the repositioning of valves at a flooded chamber in the area of the west shaft at the Polkowice mine. In 2008, the ERU received certificates confirming the introduction and implementation of occupational health and safety management with respect to organisation and performance of underwater works in accordance with the requirements of the PN-N 18001:2004 standard.

The ERU also includes the height rescue team, specialising in works in vertical shafts and shafts with a steep incline. It comprises three climbing teams. Rescuers cooperate with experts from TOPR Zakopane, GOPR Wałbrzych and Jelenia Góra, as well as with specialised fire brigade, police and military units.

Fire fighting departments are located at the major industrial facilities of the Company. They have teams trained for the liquidation of fire, chemical, technical, ecological and gas risks. Rescuers from this department participate in operations in case of fire, hazardous substance leaks, environment pollution, as well as technical breakdowns. Firemen also measure toxic gases at the smelter – e.g., the concentration of sulphur oxide, nitrogen, carbon oxide and dioxide are tested several times a day. They are also responsible for fire safety on the surface, at all mining plants at KGHM Polska Miedź S.A., as well as at the Ore Enrichment Plants, Tailings Plant and Cedynia wire rod plant.

In order to prevent industrial risks at KGHM Polska Miedź S.A., fire brigade departments undertake prevention activities, inter alia, by offering various training courses on the operation and use of fire fighting equipment. The scope of activities of the ERU also includes checking tank wagons transporting toxic materials and supervising the unloading of hazardous substances.

Copper rescuer teams have also participated in various major operations outside KGHM. They helped during the rescue operation after the earthquake in Armenia in December 1988, and in Turkey – in the summer of 1999. The excellent experience, as well as teamwork skills of all ERU departments was confirmed during the 1997 floods in Poland, which did not omit the Copper Belt. Głogów smelter and Cedynia wire rod plant were especially exposed to the risk posed by high water. The commitment and dedication of the rescue team allowed to protect strategic power facilities against water.

The ERU has been participating in International Mine Rescue Contests for many years. The rescue team participated in such a contest for the first time in 1999 in Louisville, Kentucky and KGHM hosted such contest in 2004. Rescuers from the ERU hold a leading position globally in this field.


KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. actively participates in the process of safety improvement in the commodity sector. Since 2004, the Company has been a member of the European Copper Institute, which carries out research on the harmful effects of copper, lead and arsenic at working positions and in the natural environment. Representatives of KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. are also members and participate in the works of:


  • The Lower Silesia Mining Commission at the Regional Labour Inspector in Wrocław,
  • The Interministerial Commission for Highest Concentration and Intensity of Agents Harmful to Health in the Working Environment,
  • Commissions at the Central Mining Authority: for Work Safety in the Mining Sector, for Natural Threats in Underground Mining Plants Producing Copper Ore and for Surface Protection.

In addition, the Company participates in the development of legal acts pertaining, inter alia, to safety of works, by drawing up opinions on draft legislation, as well as on the Geological and Mining Law. The Company actively promotes safety issues by participation in large industry events – in 2008, it was a co-organiser of the 21st World Mining Congress, and in 2009, KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. and the Association of Mining Engineers and Technicians, Branch in Lubin, arranged the 1st International Copper Ore Mining Congress in Lubin. The Company also participates in domestic and international fairs related to occupational health and safety, including, inter alia, A+A Düsseldorf and SAWO Poznań.

Knowledge and activities awarded


The emphasis placed by the Company on occupational health and safety enables it to participate in various competitions promoting positive models in this respect. In the “Safe Mine” competition, arranged by the AGH School of Underground Exploitation, the G-61 mining division from the Polkowice-Sieroszowice mine was recognised in 2010, while the G-2 division from Lubin mine – received an award in 2011. In December 2007, the Cedynia wire rod plant was awarded the title of “Employer – Organiser of Safe Work” by the Chief Labour Inspector, while in November 2009, a similar award was granted to the Emergency Rescue Unit in Lubin.

In the National Competition for Improvement of Work Conditions in 2010, arranged by the Central Institute for Labour Protection, the Głogów smelter was recognised in the “technical and organisational solution applied in practice” category for the project “Minimising noise of anode and silver pig casting at the precious metal division”, while in 2011, the first level award was granted to Polkowice-Sieroszowice for applying the “URB/ZS1 device for rock crashing with remote control” solution. The purpose of the competition is inspiring and popularising scientific and research works, as well as technical and organisational solutions leading to the improvement of work conditions and human protection in the working environment.

Blue-collar workers can share their knowledge of work safety too. The “OHS Knowledge Leader” competition, in which blue-collar workers from the Ore Enrichment Plants can participate, is aimed at promoting work safety standards among the staff. In 2011, more than 400 employees participated in this competition. The competition not only awards the best participants, but also checks the knowledge of employees and areas that need further development.

Support for victims

The Company ensures special care for persons injured in mining accidents. The medical package includes first psychological or psychiatric aid for employees and their families. Specialised care covers persons injured in accidents or participating in accidents, participating in potential accidents, or being witnesses of accidents, as well as participating in rescue operations.

Report on shortcuts
Jan Kochanowski (1530­-1584) – poet and playwright of the Renaissance period, graduate
of the Kraków Academy and the Universities of Koenigsberg and Padua, secretary to
King Zygmunt II August of Poland. Considered one of the most outstanding authors of the
Renaissance in Europe and the most eminent Slav poet who contributed to the development of the Polish literary language.
Teresa Bałuk-Ulewiczowa, Ph.D.
Insitute of English Philology
Jagiellonian University in Kraków