August 2007

The safety culture

John T. Ryan winners for safety performance

By C. Hersey

Safety is job one in the minerals industry, and each year, the John T. Ryan Trophies are awarded in recognition of outstanding achievements in that most important aspect of mining: safety. The John T. Ryan Trophies are awarded at the CIM Awards Gala by Mine Safety Appliances Canada Limited, as a memorial to the founder of the company. The Canadian trophies are handed out to mines in three categories—metalliferous, select, and coal—all of which, in the previous year, experienced the lowest reportable injury frequency per 200,000 hours worked in Canada. The John T. Ryan committee sets the eligibility criteria. Instances that are counted include modified or restricted duty (when a person gets hurt to the point where they cannot perform their regular duties) and lost time injuries (when a person cannot work at all). After speaking with each of the winning companies, it was obvious their efforts all boiled down to the same goal: to make sure everyone goes home at the end of the day.

North Mine

The award for the metal mines category went to North Mine in Copper Cliff,Ontario.The underground project is owned and operated by CVRD Inco Ltd. and opened back in 1967. The nickel/copper mine extracts about 4,200 tonnes a day and employs about 260 people.Vice President Michael Winship said their long-time vision of ‘zero accidents’ has finally become a reality. Since December 2005, the mine has gone 920 days without a disabling injury.

Winship credits their winning to strong safety leadership: everyone from upper management down through to the workers have all pulled together to make the environment as safe as possible. They’ve had strong safety systems for years and recently they’ve started doing Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment. The technique consists basically of individual assessment. First, evaluate the situation or risk in the workplace. Once the risk has been identified, then go through options on how the risks can be mitigated and brought into an acceptable zone.

They also have a program at the worker level called S.U.P.A. See the hazard, understand the hazard, plan a course of action before working, and act using the appropriate tools, equipment, and procedures. CVRD Inco likes to create an environment in which workers are fully engaged and can feel like partners in how the company is run—so far the results have been positive and have proven to be very valuable.

There has been a noticeable rise in empowered and inspired employees at the mine—everyone seems to want to join in on the safety dance. At CVRD Inco’s Coleman Mine, one worker actually came in on his own time and did an entire risk assessment in Power Point, identifying hazards and finding solutions to mitigate them. Individuals can come forward with ideas and suggestions on how to make the workplace a safer place to be. At North Mine, safety is part of their culture, and CVRD Inco is very proud to be one of the leaders in safety performance.

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