Safety issues regarding contractors used by Sasol would be
reviewed in the light of concerns expressed by, among others,
unions, the company's chief executive Pieter Cox said.
"Using contractors is a given," Cox told media at a briefing in
"The safety issues regarding contractors and their skills and
competencies are under review."
He said contractors offered expertise and specialised skills
regarding maintenance of equipment, that Sasol did not have.
Sasol remained committed to safety and some serious
introspection took place "from top management to ground level"
following the recent spate of safety-related incidents at mines,
refineries and plants.
Cox said although contractors were involved in at least two of
the incidents, at Secunda and the Natref refinery in Sasolburg,
"Sasol still takes full responsibility for safety at its plants,
refineries and mines".
He said the recent incidents had caused a "heightened urgency in
dealing with safety incidents".
Compared to its peers across the world, Cox said, Sasol was on
track in reducing its recordable case rates (RCR) to
internationally accepted levels.
The international norm for RCR's, which are incidents that are
beyond first aid, is 0,5 to one per 200,000 work hours. Sasol has
set itself the target of reaching a level of 0,5 before the end of
the 2006 financial year.
Sasol's level in 2001 was more than two. It dropped to 1,3 last
The company's safety, health and environmental manager, Mike
Rose, said regular audits of all three aspects were done at all
Quarterly reports were also drawn up.
Rose said a safety culture was an integral part of Sasol's
"Safety is about people and therefore a safety culture is
He said that the company had a long history of operating plants
well and safely, but in view of the recent incidents, had to take a
"long, hard" look at itself.
"You are never really satisfied with where you are and you
always want to improve."
Rose said that the safety review being done by international
safety specialists, DuPont, was at the "half way stage" and
feedback was expected in the next quarter.
He said so-far the review has found that Sasol had a good
foundation for safety.
"The situation is not out of control."
Sasol spent R450 million on safety, health and the environment
last year, Cox said. Spending on those issues increased every year
at a rate "well above the inflation rate".
Ten people were killed and 360 injured at Sasol's ethylene plant
in Secunda, Mpumalanga in September during a planned maintenance
Two incidents were recorded at the Natref refinery in Sasolburg.
In the first in October a fuel spill caused a fire. In January a
gas leak caused a fire and although no injuries were recorded, 17
people were hospitalised as a precautionary measure.
Other safety related incidents were also recorded in June, July
Cox said Sasol had completed its own internal investigations
into the incidents. He could, however, not publicly comment on the
findings, because the investigations by the labour department have
not yet been completed.