Society began to understand since the early 1970s that the pursuit of economic growth can have a negative impact on the reserves of the Earth’s natural resources and jeopardise the well being of future generations. This social responsibility to future generations was translated into practice through the implementation of the principles of sustainable development in the early 1990s. This came in the form of an idea going further than the heterogeneous ways of thinking of economy and ecology.
In the context of the strategy to achieve sustainable development are developed 10 indices for the evaluation and assessment of the applied policy in the sectors of economy (economic development), society (poverty and social exclusion, ageing society, public health, transport, good governance, global partnership) and environment (climate change and energy, production and consumption patterns, management of natural resources). As sub-index of the index of public health can be considered, among others, the workplace accidents. The safeguarding of public health at a national level, certifies the existence of a social ideology and a business culture regarding the maintenance of low levels of exposure to harmful workplace and environmental factors, the implementation of food quality assurance systems, the reduction of poverty, better life quality and effective primary health care.
Thus, environmental concerns have not been limited to standards and indices of sustainable development that include lists of an environmental behaviour, but have been oriented to the development of the society and of businesses. The ideology of the sustainable management of working environment claims that all the involved parties (employers, employees, society) must participate to it, for their benefit.
The planning of a sustainable development consists a strategic action and policy objective in all sectors of economic activities. The integration of an applied policy for the promotion of issues of hygiene and safety at workplaces can be found in the analysis of social sectors or lines of action of a business that implements rules and principles of a sustainable development.
The sector of Hygiene and safety at workplaces consisted the core of negotiations and of proposed sustainable development practices in the health sector as one of the thematic priorities in Agenda 21, in the text of the Commission of European Communities regarding the environmental and health strategy, the report about health and safety at workplaces in the 2004-2005 period, the adaptation and adoption of a new strategy for workplaces, and in other documents of the parliament.
The explosive increase of global interest regarding the pollution at work areas and of the occupational diseases and accidents that are due to it, began through the analysis of statistics where it was reported that more than 1.2 million employees lose their lives due to occupational accidents and diseases each year, while for the total of non-lethal cases, 250 million occupational accidents and 160 million occupational diseases are reported. The financial assessment of these events corresponds to approximately 4% of the gross world product.
[SOURCE: Harokopio University, Faculty of Home Economics and Ecology, programme of postgraduate studies: ”Sustainable Development”, “Industrial Hygiene and Safety in mining areas and areas of treatment of marble”, Kostantopoulou Sofia, Athens 2007.
The example of Hellas Gold S.A.
The business culture of the mining corporation Hellas Gold S.A., which exploits the Kassandra mines in Chalkidiki, in Northern Greece, can be summarized in the following phrase:
“Our people return each day safe to their homes. This is our SURPLUS VALUE”
At Hellas Gold, hygiene and safety are not just a system, they are a way of thinking and a way of living. They consist an integral part of our policy, philosophy, work and everyday life.
In the Kassandra Mines, the fact that all the people return safe at home every day is our culture, the determining parameter in our activities, as well as the fundamental standard of our business planning.
In the context of this way of thinking, we invest in prevention, in the continuous personnel training, in the selection of the safest methods and equipment, in the adoption of, and compliance with the strictest Greek and European regulation requirements and standards, and in the essential cooperation of everyone.
We have one goal, not only safety, but also the best possible working conditions, at every activity level.
The corporation has acknowledged, and tries to make the employees aware of the fact that, in order to create and maintain a totally healthy and safe working environment, one single person is not enough. The efforts and the cooperation of all people is necessary.
Personal Protective Equipment
The protection of employees in the Kassandra Mines is ensured with the use of Personal Protective Equipment that must be worn at all working times:
In the underground galleries, the employees of Hellas Gold must use the following additional equipment: