Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Roberts, M, Understanding Organisational and Personal Behaviours to Sustain High Productivity and Safety, in Aziz, N (ed), Coal 2005: Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong & the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 2005, 113-128.


Although Australia’s coal mining industry is currently experiencing a pleasing period of price relief, long-term trends toward lower real prices will surely continue. Higher price levels attract expansion by existing operators and market entrance by new operators. History clearly demonstrates the relentless long-term march toward ever lower real prices. Therefore, the need for economic returns applies constant pressure to improve productivity. To be sustained, high productivity requires a systematic response based on a solid understanding of critical productivity determinants. The most powerful determinant of productivity is now widely understood to be workplace culture. Culture largely comprises a combination of behaviours, symbols and attitudes. This paper will examine and review science’s latest discoveries in human behaviour. It will provide a proven, practical framework for understanding behaviour and applying this knowledge. Significantly, it will highlight why conventional approaches toward improving productivity often provide disappointing economic returns. The modern understanding of behaviour factors will cover coal face operations. More importantly, because executive and managerial levels in coal mining have significantly greater impact on industry and mine productivity the paper will concentrate on leadership. Particular emphasis will be placed on use of modern systems and in particular use of what are by far the most powerful drivers of behaviours – measurement, analysis and reporting systems. The paper and presentation will show how conventional systems rooted in antiquated American legislation from the early 1900s stifle productivity improvement and drive suboptimal and even counterproductive behaviours. These commonly used systems will be compared with accurate and effective modern methods for assessing performance to improve productivity. These principles are proven in all industries and effective application in mining will be highlighted. Actual results will be used to demonstrate practical approaches successfully applied in both metal and coal mining in Australia and overseas.