August 2012

Laying a strong foundation

Hatch and CIM safety award first to focus on construction phase

By Ernest Hoffman

The mining community rewards companies for clean safety records during mining operations, but it has not provided formal recognition to companies that make a special effort to practise and promote safety during the complex mine construction phase – until now.

Chris Twigge-Molecey, CIM past-president and senior advisor at Hatch, spearheaded the creation of the Hatch-CIM Mining and Minerals Project Development Safety Award, which aims to advance the safety culture at the mine construction phase.

To be eligible for the award, a company must have completed a significant construction project in Canada 12 months prior to application, and either the project owner or the project management company must be a CIM member.

Although the award is only applicable to CIM members’ Canadian projects, Hatch, which is the sole funder of the award, has a strong commitment to setting a global standard for best practices at the mine construction phase. “The safety culture really does vary according to geographic region,” says Tony Hylton, global managing director, project delivery group, project execution at Hatch. “We’re trying to get consistency right across the globe, so that when we go into the more challenging locations, the systems and procedures and the culture that we have within Hatch are a given, and we absolutely will not yield on them.”

But because there is a very different set of pressures on the project development side than on steady operations, and applying these changes is easier said than done, identifying and rewarding best practices may present a unique challenge. Major projects tend to be in more remote locations, they tend to be massive in scale, and each site is unique. This means a project involves multiple teams of contractors, each with different standards and approaches to safety.

“In steady operations, you could have 3,000 workers, and every year you add a few more when people leave or retire, so you have continuity,” explains Robert Francki, global managing director, project delivery group, engineering at Hatch. “On project development, you typically have the project management company, and then we hire anywhere from six to dozens of contactors on behalf of the owner.”

The award’s selection criteria relies on analysis of both leading and lagging indicators to ensure the safety culture reached all teams implicated in the project’s construction phase. “A leading indicator is proof that a very good safety plan and training program are being implemented on the project,” explains Dan Welshons, global director of health and safety for Hatch’s project delivery group, who led the team that developed the criteria. “Then we look at lagging indicators such as lost time injury sta­tistics, which are unknowable at the time that the programs were put in place, but which show how good the programs really were, and how well the execution phase was implemented.

Projects can take three or four years to complete and there are no more than half a dozen big construction projects in Canada each year, so applications for the prize will stand for up to three years to ensure each project is evaluated fairly. While Hatch is sponsoring the award, a CIM panel that will include members of the John T. Ryan Safety Award Committee will judge the nominees.

“In any given year, the judges may decide that even the first-ranked applicant didn’t achieve the level of excellence required to merit the award, and they may decide to pass for that year,” says Francki. “That will send a powerful message.”

The first Hatch-CIM Mining and Minerals Project Development Safety Award winner will be announced at the 2013 CIM Convention Awards Gala in Toronto.

Find out about other CIM Awards.

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