Joseph Jackson Amoah, a citizen of Kenyasi No. 2 and an employee of Newmont Ghana’s Ahafo Mine, once vowed to never work in mining. He had heard of safety issues in mining and thought that avoiding a mine was a good way to keep safe.
“I was personally against Newmont’s coming to Ahafo – I had heard and seen several negative incidents that host mining communities suffer each time a mine is set up and had vowed not to be part of anything that would destroy my community,” he said.
But Jackson encountered Newmont first-hand in 2004 while working for a local contractor. “I observed with keen interest how each Newmont employee worked with caution and I simply fell in love with that,” Joseph said.
By August 2006, he transitioned into the Ahafo mine as an employee in IT, assisting the Land Access team which falls under the Sustainability and External Relations (S&ER) department. Gradually, he became exposed to more of Newmont’s safety culture and his perception about mining started changing.
He learned that at Newmont, safety is a core value, with every meeting beginning with a brief discussion known as a ‘safety share’ where employees discuss and draw lessons from their experiences with safe and unsafe behaviors. Employees are not allowed to perform any task unless they are trained to do so, and workers are required to conduct Job Hazard Analyses (JHA), obtain the required permits and ensure that all required safety training is completed. These processes and behaviors have helped drive improved safety performance at our operations in Ghana. In fact, in 2015, Akyem and Ahafo mines were recognized with first and second place for Best Safe Mines in Ghana, respectively.
Joseph later joined the Monitoring and Evaluation unit at the Ahafo Mine, after pursuing further studies from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), and was appointed the safety representative for his new unit. His desire to share his new experiences grew stronger. Soon, he found himself unconsciously conducting safety interactions with his family, church members, and at social gatherings.
In 2013, Jackson advanced his ambassador role further, taking advantage of a new community radio station, Anapua FM in Kenyasi No.1 (one of the Ahafo’s Mine’s host communities) to begin a health and safety talk show. The hourly show has now become an interactive platform on health and safety for community members in Kenyase and beyond.
“Callers from Kumasi, Bechem, Terchire, Sunyani, Tepa and surrounding communities and villages contribute immensely to the programme. I recall receiving a call from a Ghanaian living in Italy, who listens online,” he says.
Through his radio program, Jackson has created awareness about how to avoid motorbike accidents, which were rampant in local communities. The program also provides a platform for him to educate people on proper road and traffic usage and how to prevent the outbreak of diseases in neighboring communities.
Today, as a safety ambassador, Jackson admits he was uninformed in assuming that all mining companies operate in unsafe environments. He says his experience at Newmont taught him otherwise.
“One of the many things I have learned at Newmont is to make safety a priority for myself, my family, and community. This is what the company values and encourages among its employees and communities. I am a safety ambassador at work and anywhere else I go. I am part of the Newmont safety system, a system that works.”