Brigitte Bédard wants us all to slow down and be curious. The mill health and safety coordinator at Eldorado Gold Lamaque says that these two actions alone can help us understand the impact of our actions and ensure we make safer and healthier choices while at work and at home.
Brigitte initially pursued a career as a health and safety professional after working as an administrator for a technology company. Her husband was employed in health and safety, and ongoing conversations with him made her realize that she wanted to shift professions. “I returned to school at 35 to build and expand my knowledge in this area and to find work in a field I am passionate about,” she says.
After working for several mining companies over the following decade, Brigitte joined Eldorado recently in January 2018 at our operations in Lamaque.
Lamaque is an underground gold project in Val-d’Or, Quebec. The project consists of the newly-discovered Triangle gold deposit located only 2.5km south of the historical world-class Lamaque and Sigma Mines, which are also on the property and produced over 10M oz of gold.
There’s currently a lot going on and the mine site in Quebec is a hub of activity, with commercial operations scheduled to start in 2019 and the mill getting back in operation after many years. At any given time, there are over 80 employees and contractors on site, all working on activities such as replacement of tanks and pumps, rehabilitation of the crusher, ball mill, conveyors, infrastructure and more. Ensuring they are doing their jobs safely is Brigitte’s top priority.
While each day is different, she will typically meet with employees and contractors to review and discuss health and safety initiatives and then work on developing and implementing programs that support Eldorado’s goal of zero safety incidents.
“Right now I’m working on several programs to reduce the probability of incidents,” she says. “Confined space, lock out and working at height are three programs that require a lot of time to get right and teamwork to make sure they are realistic and on target.”
Brigitte notes that a commitment to health and safety extends beyond the work site. She strongly believes that each of us should make our health our first priority throughout all aspects of our lives. “Every decision you make has an impact on your future health,” she says. “Put yourself first and make choices that contribute to a better, longer and healthier life.”
And when it comes to ensuring safe behaviours, Brigitte has some simple advice: slow down and bring a questioning attitude to your actions. “Think about why you are doing something and its potential impact,” she says. “When you approach situations with this attitude, you will no longer be reacting to safety issues – in fact, you will be preventing them. You’ll also be setting a strong example for your colleagues and family.” It becomes a value that you bring with you in each action that you make.
Finally, she emphasizes that it is essential to take the time “to listen, discuss, learn, observe and ask questions.” We can all be more productive – as individuals and teams – when we work in a way that puts health and safety first. It is important to understand that in order to have a successful health and safety program; it takes everyone making an effort individually to be committed to working in a safe and healthy manner.