Safety by Choice, Not Chance
Safety is everyone’s responsibility and it is our top priority, every day. We aim to learn from past experiences and from industry best practices, and strive for continuous improvement in our safety peformance. We are passionate about ensuring a safe and healthy work environment that extends to all aspects of our operation. We believe that safety starts with our workers, who are responsible for complying with our safety management systems and processes. Managers ensure that workers have the tools and skills needed to operate safely and undertake hazard analysis to manage risks proactively.
We continued to build on our safety culture with ongoing support of management. Our occupational health and safety (OHS) management system now includes requirements for managerial staff to be on-site more often and to complete toolbox meetings, safety inspections, and equipment inspections during every site visit. This has increased safety-focused engagement between workers and managers at site, to everyone’s benefit. When our managers show leadership with strong safety practices and demonstrate commitment to OHS inspections and reporting, others improve their safety practices too.
Occupational Health & Safety Management
Our OHS Manual and Fitness for Duty Policy support our goal of Zero Harm and apply to all workers at site, including both direct employees and contractors. Our efforts to communicate with our workforce about the importance of safety supports the successful implementation of our OHS standards across our operations. We consider our OHS Manual, standard operating procedures, and job hazard analyses to be living documents, and we critically review and amend our practices to stay relevant and aligned with best practice for the task at hand. Our senior leadership regularly audits our internal safety management system and commissions annual assessments by external auditors.
There are two Joint Health and Safety Committees at our operation, one based at the Brucejack Mine site and the other at Knipple camp. These employee-led committees are required under provincial regulation and meet every four weeks. Our management team attends committee meetings upon request. The committees work to identify and address workplace health and safety issues and represent the interests of all our employees and contractors.
H&S Management Tools
In 2019, we developed and launched new tools to support our safety culture and our goal of Zero Harm. We enhanced our Personal Safety Tracker system as well as hired two Health and Wellness Coordinators to help workers stay in good physical condition. All our managers and supervisors used Personal Safety Trackers to track safety performance against the specific metrics of each role. Metrics include, for example, completion of a certain number of safety inspections and identifying corrective actions. Staff display these trackers prominently, leading to a marked improvement in the safety culture at our Mine. Visible to visiting regulatory inspectors, trackers showcase our commitment to transparency in OHS performance.
Safety trackers integrate with other elements of our safety program, and data from the trackers influence discretionary bonuses. Corrective actions arising from safety inspections are centrally recorded so we can track and manage these actions across teams at our Mine. In 2019, we continued with the implementation of our Corrective Action Tracking System (CATS), launched in 2018, which acts as a repository for information from both staff and contractors. This tracker has been well received by all staff and contractors and is now widely used to ensure actions resulting from incidents and inspections are followed up on and closed.
Incident Reporting & Investigation
Our enhanced approach to on-site safety focused on an increased managerial presence and engagement in our day-to-day activities. The strong examples shown by our managers and senior leadership resulted in an increase in incident reporting in 2019. We are proud to run a mine site where our staff and contractors not only feel secure and empowered to report incidents and concerns, they also understand the importance of doing so.
For all work-related incidents—including higher risk near-miss events—Pretivm investigates in accordance with our OHS Manual. Depending on the incident severity, we may convene a multi-disciplinary committee that includes representatives from safety, environment, operations, and other relevant departments. Committees follow a structured process to investigate the root cause of the incident. We record outcomes and corrective actions in CATS and share learnings from each event across the company through emails and newsletters, daily safety reports, and managers’ toolbox meetings.
We train all our employees to identify hazards in the workplace so we can address them promptly and effectively. We also encourage our employees to communicate any concerns or issues. All of our workers have “stop-work” authority, and we actively communicate this authority so everyone feels empowered to use it.
We invest in safety and focus on prevention by training our workforce, tracking incidents and corrective actions, and communicating what we learn. In addition to formal training courses and orientations, daily toolbox meetings each morning at the Mine help managers build a strong understanding of safety and promote a common understanding of risk management. These discussions focus on relevant topics ranging from cold weather safety and pedestrian/vehicle interactions to illness prevention and the risks of complacency, among other matters.
Pretivm provides a rigorous on-site safety-training program that includes both generalized and job-specific courses. All staff and visitors receive site orientations covering basic safety rules and procedures, environmental management, and hazard awareness. Job-specific safety training programs in 2019 included those related to underground works such as confined space awareness and operation of underground equipment. There were courses related to the local terrain and environment such as avalanche safety, glacier travel, and swift-water rescue training. Those who work at heights received training on topics such as aerial work, rigging, and fall protection. We also provided courses in first aid, use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and operation of equipment and vehicles.
aid, and rescue operations
The Brucejack Mine is remote and far removed from public services, and it is important that we are self-sufficient in our ability to respond rapidly and effectively to a wide range of potential emergencies. Our Emergency Preparedness Procedure and Policy provides structure and direction to our emergency response program. We run regular evacuation drills for the mine, mill, and camp. We also practice tabletop simulations of responses to a wide range of risks and potential incidents including bus rollovers, earthquakes, fire, and gas leaks. We use our internal risk register to identify the types of incidents demonstrated in these simulations. We document and communicate corrective actions resulting from drills and tabletop simulations through CATS.
We maintain emergency response teams at the Brucejack Mine and Knipple camp. In 2019, there were 68 team members at the mine site and an additional 25 members at Knipple camp. Team members received a combined total of 6,459 hours of training including mine rescue, rope rescue, swiftwater rescue, ice rescue, firefighting, spill response, and first aid (including paramedic integration and medical transportation endorsement).
Workplace Health & Wellness
On-Site Health Clinic
Considering the remote location of the mine site, where a journey to the hospital in winter could be more than eight hours, reliable on-site medical services are critical to the well-being of our workforce. In addition to work-related risks of injury, the fact that many workers are at site for two-week rotations presents a higher likelihood that other health issues may arise. Our on-site primary care clinic, operated under contract with Iridia Medical Services through a joint venture with the Nisga’a Nation, addresses the need for reliable on-site medical services at the Brucejack Mine. Medical staff include remote-care nurses and advanced care paramedics under the guidance of two off-site physicians; physicians are on-call to provide guidance or instruction to on-site staff as needed.
Our on-site clinic works under a Policy and Procedure Manual comprising more than 150 policies and procedures related to topics like communicable disease, wound care, triage, patient transport, privacy, mental health assessment, and document management. Our expanded clinic services included proactive and preventative health initiatives such as flu vaccines, updated health and wellness campaigns, physiotherapy, health and fitness, and occupational health programs related to lead, audiology, and spirometry testing. In 2019, we added the support of physiotherapists, and employed two on-site health and fitness coordinators. The clinic also provides a variety of voluntary programs including monitoring blood sugar and blood pressure, early detection for diabetes and hypertension, cancer prevention and detection, women’s health, and a smoking cessation program. The depth and quality of service at the health clinic exceeds the legal requirements for a mine site and rivals clinics in many remote northern communities. In fact, 81% of patient visits are not work-related: due to the convenience and level of service available at the site, many workers prefer to receive health care at site rather than in community clinics.
We also run robust monitoring programs for certain job-related illnesses. For example, underground mine workers may be exposed to heightened levels of dust and silica particles. To monitor potential changes, all underground workers receive health exams including questionnaires and a baseline chest x-ray. We give workers information about their personal lung health, which has prompted a number of people to stop smoking and improve lung function.