Mining can be the safest activity. What you need is the right safety program and skilled people to lead the mine safety program. That is the message that comes through clear from the presentations this morning at the Alaska Miners Association Conference in Juneau, Alaska.
Safety starts at the top. But safety has to come up from the bottom of the hearts & minds of those on the work-front. That too is clear from this morning’s presentations. The three were:
- Building a Safety Culture at Kensington by Joe Kemp
- Fort Knox Safety Program by Bob Sweeden
- Greens Creek Safety Program by Caroline Cave.
As Joe states in his paper abstract and ably proved in his talk:
In 2007-2011 Coeur employees achieved three + years without a Mine Safety and Health (MSHA) Lost Time Accident at over 840,000 safe hours worked. This achievement is only possible because of the continued support and buy-in from not only the management and supervisory staff but also the dedication and support from all employees at Kensington.
Joe emphasized that safety mottos and statements pinned on a wall are ignored. The only thing that makes them work and work successfully is when the front-line workers take to heart the belief and practice of working safely. He notes, “Cultivation of a Safety first culture through employee involvement is achieved by weekly safety first meetings and topics and active participation in a behavioral-based safety program.”
Fort Knox has the enviable record of four million hours with no Lost TIme Injuries. He and the company can be proud of that.
Greens Creek has a good safety record, but were visited many times last year by MSHA and were fined many dollars for violations. Caroline dealt honestly with these and emphasized that they have moved fast to rectify the situation.
Thus it appears to me that we must also grant the independent inspector a significant role in what has to be done as an industry-wide thing: safety from all directions, in all directions, and by everybody; all involved in a comprehensive vigilant system. Good luck to these three mines for continued safety in 2011.