Improving accident rates are a strong indication of Eldorado’s commitment to safety, but also a reminder that safer work sites don’t just happen overnight.
“The changes the mining industry has gone through since I started working in it 25 years ago are incredible,” says Doug Jones, our Senior VP, Operations. Doug is an industry veteran who cut his teeth working underground in Colorado. “But we continue to improve because there’s always more we can be doing,” he says.
Moving forward, safely
Safety literally begins on the ground with our workers. As Doug points out, a defining factor of a safe site starts with workers’ thought processes.
“We are all tempted to think, ‘It’ll be faster for me to weld that bracket now instead of first completing the hot work permit.’ But there’s a reason why the majority of accidents can be avoided,” he says. “If we stopped, remembered the consequences of a mistake, and followed procedures we could make our workplaces safer.”
Doug explains that it’s human nature to take shortcuts to speed up getting things done. But once people get into the habit of making tasks safe first, they gradually become uncomfortable with shortcuts. “Nobody goes to work believing they’ll get injured,” he points out. “The challenge of safety leadership is to get people to think ahead of their own nature.”
So how do we develop a safety culture in which employees give their decisions that essential second thought?
Developing a safety culture
To build a safe work culture, Eldorado’s operations are guided by our health and safety policy. That policy is driven by five key principles:
- Leadership and training. By hiring competent employees, providing clear leadership and thorough safety training, Eldorado makes safety a part of everyone’s business. It’s very important that every employee takes responsibility for their own safety and takes proactive steps to guarantee it every day.
- Identifying risks. In a safety culture that values transparency, employees and their supervisors take responsibility for identifying potential hazards.
- Managing and mitigating risks. Once risks have been identified, we create plans to reduce or eliminate these hazards.
- Preparing for incidents. With a general framework to prepare for hazards, we prepare for specific incidents with action plans and other incident management systems.
- Learning from incidents. No matter how proactive our safety culture is, incidents can still happen. But with a work culture that values transparency and safety, these incidents help us improve future operations.
In addition to our health and safety policy, Eldorado also uses the internationally recognized OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Framework to help us better identify and manage safety risks and improve our safety performance.
Looking out for each other
This approach provides our operations with high-level objectives while allowing our sites to develop systems and programs that are right for use. Site-specific approaches can be targeted at areas of priority and take into account cultural attitudes towards safety.
“We’ve found this system of fostering safety leadership on the ground to be particularly successful,” says Doug. “Our guys are far more motivated to look out for each other if their frontline supervisor is spearheading safety rather than us at head office saying ‘you have to implement this program’. We’re really seeing results with this safety-ownership approach”.
Safety is an essential component in every Eldorado mine. “It is everyone’s responsibility,” says Doug.
To learn more about Eldorado’s commitment to safety, check out our Health and Safety Policy. In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing some of the programs that have resulted in real safety successes at our regional sites.