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Background

The mine manager of one of the biggest iron ore mines in the world wanted to reduce the occurrence of accidents and incidents caused by human error.

A survey done by industrial psychologists confirmed that first-line truck drivers and crane operators experienced an increase in dangerous incidents and accidents due to:

  • fatigue
  • absenteeism from work
  • a negative mindset

Purpose

  • Find solutions to help individuals reduce their risk for human error related incidents and accidents;
  • Reduce absenteeism;
  • Find solutions to reduce fatigue;
  • To explore the impact of the NAP™ assessment and neuro-agility training on first-line truck drivers and crane operators.

Actions Taken

  • Brain ergonomics assessment of the cabins in which the operators / drivers work, as well as the hostels where they sleep, was made to determine how humanized the cabins and hostels were. Appropriate measures was taken to humanize the inside cabins of vehicles and machinery and create hostels that are conducive for sleep and rest.
  • LRP™ Risk brain profile assessments were done on all operators, drivers, supervisors and managers to determine how they process information and identify possible neurological hindrances and risk for human error during stress or fatigue. A group report was created from the individual profiles to determine general levels of fatigue and identify tendencies and patterns that need to be addressed in the business units.
  • Leadership was trained to understand how fatigue and stress may cause neurological hindrances that will increase a person’s risk for error and cause accidents. They were also trained in solutions to reduce fatigue so they could make appropriate decisions and introduce changes and actions to create an environment more conducive for health, safety, positivity and productivity.
  • Brain profile debriefings were done with crane operators and truck drivers in order for them to understand themselves accurately and be aware of how their stress and fatigue levels and lack of sleep may cause possible neurological information processing hindrances and increase their risk for human error.
  • The Neuro-Well Program, a holistic, neuroscience approach to fatigue management (body/mind/spirit) was designed for first-line management, leadership and workers. The assessment served as the point of departure for the learning interventions as participants could refer back to their brain profiles to determine which fatigue solutions would be applicable to them personally in order to minimize neurological hindrances and reduce their risk for human error.
  • Specific sequences of brain fitness techniques and activities that would prepare the neurological system for information processing and “switch it on” was designed for first-line operators to do every hour and a half during a shift. These activities were also made part of performance management criteria as to ensure that they would be done.

Results

After above measures were taken, Neuro-Link and the company’s industrial psychologists assessed first-line truck drivers and operators again and found the following:

  • A significant decrease in fatigue related incidents and accidents, which directly impacts on saving lives and preventing injuries.
  • A decrease in absenteeism of 24% which had a direct impact on productivity and performance.
  • Behavior changes in mindsets of operators and truck drivers changed from a pessimistic to a more optimistic mindset, which directly impacted interpersonal relationships, company culture, performance and health in the medium to long term.
  • Increased performance and productivity at the end of this intervention was observed at an all- time high as more tons of iron ore was excavated. This resulted in a 14th check performance bonus of 4,5 times their monthly salary that was paid.
  • A post assessment was used to evaluate brain fitness levels, which improved by 22% on average. A 100% of first-line operators and drivers commented that the brain fitness techniques and activities contributed towards decreased fatigue and improved focus.
  • The intervention was rated as 86% by the Kirkmax assessment, which means that a highly commendable performance was achieved.

ROI Impact

  • 100% of respondents stated that knowing their neuro-design and potential risk for error helped them in managing fatigue better and reducing their risk for error.
  • Accident free hours were exceeded with hundreds of thousands of hours.
  • Findings from the NAP™ , helped develop a pre-employment screening system to determine potential risk for error. These findings led to the following:
    • increase in employee retention,
    • a report to the holding company stating that the mine are more productive and the NAP™ should be implemented division-wide.
  • This neuro-agility pilot study resulted in significant bottom line findings that this mine now integrates into their health and safety initiatives.
  • The reduction of incidents, accidents and absenteeism in the workplace could be attributed to Neuro-Link’s NAP™ and neuro-agility interventions.
  • The findings from this case study were highly predictive, i.e:
    • Neuro-agility subscales predicted risk for error 100% of the time.
      These include: information processing style and brain fitness, stress and fatigue levels. This mine now uses the NAP™ case study results as a predictive model for both the selection of new personnel, creating personalized development programs and providing neuro-agility learning solutions.

Take Aways

  • Using the NAP™ for business optimization purposes generates:
    • Large reductions in costs related to incidents and accidents
    • Decreased attrition rates
    • Increased productivity
  • Using the NAP™ for health and safety purposes generates:
    • A personalized approach to reducing risk for human error
    • Reduction in absenteeism
  • Using the NAP™ for selection and development purposes generates:
    • A road map for personalized development programs
    • Higher performance

Recommendations of Executives and Participants

  • “I have learned that some of the things that causes us to stress are minor things too. Positive attitude works. It’s been a good course for me. The facilitator makes the course interesting because there must be participation, during training.”
  • “I found the course very interesting as well as an eye opener of where and when I see myself. All levels of employees should attend this type of training sessions.”
  • “I thank Kumba for the development I got; the strong, innovative and creative person I am through the Fast Tract. People think I make a difference in their lives, a positive influence.”
  • “If what has been learned can be applied by everyone it will definitely influence the organization and world positively. Incorporating young generation in this course will take our country to better place.”


Author:
Edith Tiencken

Edith Tiencken, GPHR, SHRM-SCP is the president of Smart Brain Insights and the managing partner for NeuroLink Company for USA, Canada and Latin America. She serves as an International Advisor providing people and businesses with insights, innovative strategies and tools for business growth to senior leaders, business owners and consultants. Her 25+ years of experience and passion for exploring and developing business and individual potential has driven success in cultural change, organizational learning, and in building high-performing organizations. She collaborated, led and managed organizations in the US, Latin America, Canada, Europe and Asia Pacific. Edith has been a guest and public speaker in private enterprises, educational institutions, social and professional organizations and diverse occupational groups, positively impacting thousands of professionals worldwide.