As we learn how to adapt to our new COVID-19 world, contact tracing has become an essential tool for health authorities to identify and isolate people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus before they infect others.
Contact tracing is also an important tool for Eldorado as we work to proactively protect the safety of our employees and contractors. While our underground mines already have employee tracking systems in place for our emergency response program, we wanted to find a way to better track people at our surface operations to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in case of an infection.
“We asked ourselves how we could quickly and cost-effectively track employees so that if a case emerged, we could identify who that person had been in proximity with at the work site over the prior 14 days,” explains Hakan Kutluay, Chief Information Officer.
Eldorado’s IT team came up with an inventive idea that built on our existing hardware and software systems: ID cards.
“We already have ID card-readers in many operations, and they are easy to use,” explains Hakan. “We realized we could install a few more readers in high-use locations making it easy for people to tap in and out as they enter or leave areas.”
Within a month, Eldorado had a system deployed at the Lamaque mine in Quebec. All employees and contractors wear a silicone bracelet that they use to tap in and out at various entry points in the mill and surface buildings, with the reader recording their employee or contractor number.
“If we were to have a confirmed case, we could identify who has been exposed to that person within a couple of hours,” says Craig Johnson, Director of Health & Safety. “By comparison, the local health authorities in Val-d’Or told us they would need two days to do contact tracing, so they were impressed with our anticipated speed of response.”
Hakan says his peers at other mining operations are also impressed with Eldorado’s approach and fast implementation. Other companies are exploring technology that is much more expensive (like facial recognition) or open to privacy concerns (like contact tracing apps installed on phones) or prone to potential error (such as GPS signal accuracy). In contrast, Eldorado’s approach is cost-effective, easy to implement and protects privacy.
There are now plans to roll out the system in Greece, with equipment on the way to our Kassandra operations in the country. In Turkey, our Efemçukuru and Kışladağ mines are taking a different approach in order to comply with direction from the Turkish government.
“I am so proud that our team was able to put together this innovative solution that builds on our existing hardware and software – and to release it within a month,” says Craig. “This is a cutting-edge tool that can help us react quickly if there is a coronavirus case – and the quicker we can react, the better for all of us.”