HEALTH impact assessments are becoming an essential risk management tool for global mining companies. International SOS provides health impact assessments to a growing number of Australian mining clients, allowing them to effectively monitor and manage the impact of their operations on the communities in which they operate.
A health impact assessment can either be undertaken as a standalone exercise or can be integrated as part of an environmental, social and health impact evaluation.
“Often there are regulatory compliance reasons for companies wanting to carry out a health impact assessment,” International SOS director of public health services
Francesca Viliani said.
“For example, the Equator Principles make it a requisite for companies seeking international financing to demonstrate how they will develop projects in a socially and environmentally responsible way. “There can be other reasons too – such as reducing operational risk, the risk of litigation, or risks to the company’s reputation,” Ms Viliani said.
Negative health impacts on a workforce and surrounding communities may not be immediately apparent , but once noted can quickly affect a company’s reputation and its ability to secure additional projects. Additionally, positive impacts such as water provision for a community can bring benefits for future generations, and greatly enhance a company’s reputation.International SOS senior medical experts conduct health impact assessments with an understanding of the industry and geographical contexts of each project.
A range of factors that may affect the health of the local population are analysed in each assessment, with a particular focus on those who may be more vulnerable in terms of age, gender, ethnic background or socio-economic status. Data is gathered by assessing published sources and through interviews with community stakeholders.
“When the health impact assessment is completed our team then delivers solutions to address those impacts,” Ms Viliani said.
Recommendations often lead to education and training initiatives sponsored by a company, such as malaria control, literacy or nutrition programs.