World’s deepest base metal mine wins President’s Award from Workplace Safety North

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Timmins Kidd Operations, Glencore wins mining safety award

On September 19 in North Bay, Ontario, the provincial occupational health and safety expert for forestry, mining, and paper, printing, and converting sectors recognized the commitment of companies to the prevention of illness and injury at its inaugural Workplace Excellence awards.

Workplace Safety North President Candys Ballanger-Michaud presented an award to Kidd Operations - Glencore during the annual general meeting and awards dinner. The Timmins-based operation which includes a mine and a mill was honoured for its contribution to building safe and healthy workplaces in Ontario. 

Tom Semadeni at podium“Everyone’s really proud of the win,” says Tom Semadeni, General Manager of Kidd Operations. “It’s really icing on the cake because earlier this year we won the John T. Ryan national safety trophy for the best safety performance for a Canadian metal mine. So it’s further reinforcement that we’re on the right track.

“I think it’s great to promote success in the area of safety. A lot of times, businesses have a tendency to notice and follow up on things that are going badly or wrong, but you need to recognize success, not only internally but also publicly. Being recognized with awards like this one demonstrates to our employees and external stakeholders that we have a strong commitment to on-going improvement in our safety performance.”

Unique challenges at world’s deepest base metal mine

“The mine’s been in operation since 1966 so it’s older by some standards and that creates some challenges because we’re working with a mix of older infrastructure as well as new,” says Semadeni. “We’re the deepest base-metal mine in the world – the deepest place you can get to in the earth’s crust – and that creates its own set of challenges, such as with logistics, transportation and supervision of people over vast distances. There are about 1,200 people including contractors working on two different sites: we’re a mine and a mill separated by about 30 kilometres and there’s a train that runs in between, so that’s kind of unusual for a mine. 

“That also makes it a bit more challenging from a management point of view because you’re basically dealing with two sites. I have to get to both places because I believe an important aspect in safety is visible leadership. You need to be present and available and making a difference in the workplace. It’s a bit of a challenge for us and I think that’s why it’s so important to have good systems in place. 

“That’s what I like about your awards; you’ve established some measurement criteria, a view of the key ingredients to achieving good safety performance. You have to believe there’s a cause-and-effect relationship with safety, that it’s not just luck, but that if you have all the proper ingredients in place, you will end up with good safety results. I think that’s one of the things we’ve come to realize over the years: we need to have all the right systems in place and then have a way of auditing the systems to make sure that they’re effective.”

Every operation is different

“There are two aspects of benchmarking that are important,” says Semadeni. “One is that you should be improving relative to yourself. Sometimes it is difficult to compare yourself to others because every operation is different. So I think the aspect of the award where you need to demonstrate year-on-year improvement is important. Because the most important thing is to be able to prove to yourself that you are improving your own operation – because the rest of the world moves around and you can’t control that, but you can control your own destiny, your own operation. 

“The second part of that is having the best practices or measurement criteria to self-audit against. Hopefully, again, you can demonstrate to yourself that you are improving. So if you don’t win one year, well, through the course of the next year, you understand why and where your gaps were, and work to improve in those areas, then measure yourself again and see if you have improved.”

A safety report card for companies

“We send our kids to school and they get report cards and get assessed against criteria. I think it’s useful for organizations to do that same type of thing– like a safety report card. 

“Changing human behaviour and changing our habits are hard,” adds Semadeni. “It takes a lot of hard work to improve safety, so I think a validation of that work is a great feeling. It’s a great source of pride when you can see that all your hard work is paying off.”

About WSN Workplace Excellence Awards

The purpose of the program is twofold: first, companies can complete an easy-to-follow assessment of their current health and safety programs. Once completed, businesses can clearly see areas for improvement and develop an action plan to improve safety performance; second, the program provides recognition to firms actively engaged in improving their health and safety performance. 

Companies that score 80 percent or more on the self-assessment submit the completed assessment to WSN in order to receive a plaque that can be displayed in the workplace. WSN reviews the self-assessment and scores may be validated by an on-site visit from a WSN Field Consultant. All submitted assessments are automatically considered for the President’s Award. Scoring is based on the results of the self-assessment in combination with statistical performance of the past two calendar years. 

Top scoring firms in forestry, mining, paper, printing, and converting, and small business are presented with the President’s Award at the WSN annual general meeting each September.

Submissions can be made at any time throughout the calendar year.  For mining companies that would like to be recognized with a plaque at this year’s Mining Health and Safety conference, the deadline for submission is March 15.  To be considered for the 2013 President’s Award, companies must submit their assessment by August 15.

Download the Health and Safety Self-Assessment for WSN Workplace Excellence Awards

Accompanying Information Guide includes Frequently Asked Questions

WSN Workplace Excellence Awards Program

WSN staff with Kidd Operations-Glencore staffWorkplace Safety North representatives with mining sector safety award winners Kidd Operations - Glencore, from left: Shawn Connors, Guy Lamb, Candys Ballanger-Michaud, Sam Barbuto, Rick Farrell, Tom Semadeni (holding award), Ed Pieterse, Perry Harvey, and Bill Shaver.

View CTV News coverage of Kidd Operations - Glencore safety awards.