Frank J. O’Connell is somewhat of a legend in Canadian mining circles. Passionate about workplace safety, he helped set the standard for underground mine safety in Quebec during the 1950’s. A mining engineer by background, he used his role as General Manager of the Sigma Mine in Val-d’Or to exchange best safety practices with a regional committee of mine managers that he led.
In honor of Frank’s dedication to improving mine safety, the Quebec mining industry established the annual F.J. O’Connell Award in 1966. Eldorado Gold Lamaque was the proud recipient of this award in June 2018 in the Underground Operations, less than 400,000 hours worked category.
“This recognition stands in testimony of the efforts made by employees, supervisors, and management to work hard as a team in respecting our work practices, developing accident avoidance methods, and respecting methodology,” says Sylvain Lehoux, General Manager of our Lamaque project.
Each year, the Québec Mining Association (QMA) recognizes strong performance in health and safety for mining companies and rewards teams for their safety and accident records as compared to the industry average.
“The F.J. O’Connell trophies recognize improvements in a company’s performance, and its performance compared to the industry average. We are extremely proud of our work place health and safety results, and the commitment made by QMA members who take action, on a daily basis, to offer their workers the best possible working conditions,” says Josée Méthot, President and CEO of the Quebec Mining Association.
Why We Won the F.J. O’Connell Award
Our health and safety performance exceeded industry standards by 50% in 2017, even while construction of the underground ramp was underway at our Lamaque mine in Val-d’Or. This outperformance was what contributed to our win.
“Achieving this excellent performance in 2017 in health and safety is a reflection of the commitment and involvement of all our employees,” explains Jean-Guy Lévesque, Health and Safety Superintendent at Lamaque. “More than 140 standards, procedures and programs were developed in regards to health and safety to ensure we follow good practices which have been developed in the mining industry.”
Two successful tools were implemented across the Lamaque site, to help foster quality communication between employees and supervisors, leading to a safer workplace.
- First, the Supervision Approach, is a comprehensive procedure for health and safety management and prevention. It includes a review of current working conditions and arrangements and looks at how best to improve the safety of the mine site.
- Second, the “Labour Card”, is an information, communication and evaluation tool focused on workplace safety during production and maintenance. It creates a written record of the task, the state of the area, and how the task will be executed. The Labour card is useful to track and investigate reported information in order to improve safety and efficiency.
Committed to Health and Safety
Receiving the F.J. O’Connell award at Lamaque is a reminder to stay disciplined and keep monitoring the high standards the Company has in place. We will continue to improve health and safety for the well-being of all employees, contractors, and visitors to the site.
“Everybody is focused on making this a successful and safe operation that we can be proud of at Lamaque, at Eldorado, and in the Val-d’Or community,” says Sylvain.
What makes this award extra special to our Lamaque team is that Frank established his legacy while working at the historic Sigma Mine from 1946 until his death in 1966. As the current owner and developer of this historic mining property, we are proud to be a part of this history and legacy.
Check out this short video of Sylvain Lehoux speaking about the achievement.