Leaders at Newmont Mining Improve WorkplaceSafety By Changing Employee Behavior


Workplace safety has always been a value for global mining leader Newmont Mining Corporation. The company utilizes many proven safety practices such as investigating incidents and taking corrective actions, creating proactive safety standards for management, and providing standard safety and technical training. As a result, the company achieved an enviable Total Recordable Accident Frequency Rate (TRAFR), the industry measurement of safety incidents that occur on the job per number of hours worked. Still, the company continued to experience fatalities and serious injuries. Newmont’s board of directors requested that the executive leadership team develop a plan to work toward eliminating fatalities and serious injuries in the workplace. This directive led to the creation of a Safety Task Force, which developed six recommendations. First among the recommendations was to focus on Safety Leadership Behaviors. This meant company leaders had to figure out how to change behaviors to ensure that choosing safer behaviors became part of the company’s culture.


Newmont was introduced to the Crucial Influence® Model when Al Switzler, cofounder of Crucial Learning and bestselling author, spoke at Newmont’s 2010 Global Leadership Meeting in Australia. After more discussions with members of the Safety Task Force, Newmont decided to pilot the Crucial Influence approach to behavior change at three locations to see how it would work in a mining environment and in the various cultures where Newmont operated. These pilot programs proved the model would work for Newmont. The company kicked off the rollout by certifying a handful of employees in Crucial Influence. These certified trainers were tasked with leading the Crucial Influence sessions in different regions around the world including North America, Indonesia, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. To date, Newmont has led approximately eighty Crucial Influence workshops globally. Leaders began their Crucial Influence rollout by collecting stories from employees at each worksite.

“These stories came right from those who know what happens in the field and the risks or situations that could lead to fatalities or serious injuries,” says Terry Terranova, a Global Director for Change Management at Newmont who helped implement Crucial Influence. “Employees were also asked to identify the three fellow workers they listen to the most. We tabulated the results, and the top ten to twenty people who were listed most often by their peers were identified as the ‘opinion leaders.’ We invited these opinion leaders to the Crucial Influence course.” At the workshop, the opinion leaders spent the first day reading through the employee stories in order to identify the status quo behaviors that were putting employees at risk. They then developed a list of three to four vital behaviors that, if chosen over the status quo behaviors, would help keep employees safe. On the second day, the opinion leaders worked with the Six Sources of Influence to identify ways their worksite could motivate and enable all employees to choose the vital behaviors—especially in crucial moments. The vital behaviors and the five to six strategies for each of the Six Sources of Influence were then put together in a playbook. The workshop ended with the site leadership team— including the site general manager—coming to the workshop where the opinion leaders presented the playbook. During this time, any ideas or influence strategies that management could not support could be removed or modified. In addition, this portion of the workshop allowed management to commit to helping the opinion leaders, execute their strategies and measure results. In total, the Opinion Leader teams identified more than 330 vital behaviors specific to their individual worksites and functions. Having these employees uncover their own vital behaviors ensured they had ownership over the process. Of the 330 vital behaviors, common themes surfaced, such as ensuring proper risk assessments were conducted, complying with all procedures, and not taking shortcuts when tempted. However, the behavior that showed up most frequently was speaking up to address an unsafe act or condition. “Around the globe, our employees said that if they would speak up to each other and their supervisors, their worksite would be safer,” said Terranova.

Following the Crucial Influence course, the opinion leaders created a roadmap for executing the six‑source strategies. The teams typically meet with managers or superintendents every four to six weeks to review the roadmap and identify which strategies should be implemented next.

“Knowing the right behavior, such as speaking up, and doing it are two different things. That’s where the influence strategies come into play.”

Examples of the strategies opinion leaders identified in each of the Six Sources of Influence include:

Personal Motivation: Every worksite found ways to tap into one of the main drivers of safety—personal relationships. In Africa, for example, the company took family photos and made small, laminated copies employees wear on their lanyards as a poignant reminder of the importance of making safe choices. Most sites also used the power of vicarious experiences by inviting speakers to share personal stories of how injuries or accidents permanently altered their lives.

Personal Ability: Opinion leaders facilitated sessions to help employees learn best practices on speaking up—what to say in difficult conversations and how to respond to challenging interactions.

Social Motivation & Ability: Many sites hosted family days where family members visited the mines and learned about some vital behaviors they could adopt to help keep their loved ones safe, such as ensuring the mine workers in their family got enough sleep and ate healthy meals. Employees also made videos illustrating the benefit and importance of the vital behaviors.

Structural Motivation: Crews recognize fellow employees who demonstrate the vital behaviors by awarding hard hat stickers, which have become badges of honor.

Structural Ability: One worksite installed safety vending machines stocked with goggles and gloves, making it easier for employees to use the proper protection equipment. Some worksites have allocated time at the end of shifts to allow for housekeeping activities that keep a work area clear of safety hazards, and all worksites displayed signs and posters to remind employees of the vital behaviors they committed to follow.


As a result of the many efforts Newmont has taken to improve safety, including the Crucial Influence rollout, the company has made quantum leaps in workplace safety. The company’s TRAFR declined from 0.69 before the full rollout to 0.47 two years later, a year in which Crucial Influence was fully implemented at the majority of work sites. That is a 32 percent reduction! In addition, serious injuries were reduced 73 percent during the same period, meaning sixteen fewer people experienced life-altering injuries. In addition to this lagging measure, Newmont measures a leading indicator—the extent to which employees proactively follow their vital behaviors. On this measure, regions where Crucial Influence has been in place for over a year showed employees chose the vital behaviors 50 to 65 percent of the time when the effort began. Since then, the power of the Crucial Influence strategies has increased that rate to 60 to 75 percent. When asked why Crucial Influence has positively impacted safety at Newmont, Terranova says the approach really turns the usual change management model on its ear. “So often, corporate change is simply handed down from the top, and we think that if executives broadcast it, it will be well received and quickly implemented,” says Terranova. “But employees can make or break a culture. That’s why involving them in the change process and having them lead the effort is the best way to change behavior. Employees are the ones who will enact the change and ensure the new, vital behaviors become part of their culture.”

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