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How “Bow Ties” Sharpen Our Focus on the Controls That Matter Most

Risk Management Case Study

Common to a risk management approach is identifying risks and ensuring controls are in place for managing such risks. Because there often can be numerous controls, for our most significant risks, we have recently begun to focus on the key controls – often referred to as critical controls – that are most effective at reducing the risk of a catastrophic event.

Through a “bow-tie” analysis – named after the shape of the diagram – we identify potential causes and consequences of a risk scenario. Crucial to the process is having those who directly manage the risk – including frontline leaders and site leadership – involved in the analysis.

Our first bow-tie assessment was in 2015 when our global health and safety function launched a critical control management process that evolved into our Fatality Risk Management program. Along with identifying our top 16 fatality risks, we identified the critical controls that must be in place every time we undertake a task involving that risk.

In 2018, we conducted bow-tie assessments to identify critical controls for managing the risks related to our tailings storage facilities and our use of cyanide as a reagent for gold processing. These efforts are discussed in featured case studies in the Tailings, Waste and Emissions and Cyanide Management sections.

Once in place, the critical controls must be continuously maintained and tested. As part of our Fatality Risk Management program, frequent field-based verifications are conducted by site managers to ensure the critical controls are in place and effective. We also review and update our critical controls as needed and when events improve our understanding of the controls necessary to manage the risk. For example, our exploration function has applied specific performance requirements to the critical controls that protect people during exploration drilling campaigns.

Ongoing scrutiny also helps us identify root causes and develop and implement long-term solutions.

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