Health and Safety

Dr. Tom Lawley, Teck’s Medical Director

Your Questions Answered: Q&A With Dr. Tom Lawley, Teck’s Medical Director

Health and safety is a core value at Teck, and absolutely nothing is more important than the health and safety of our people. This is as true today as it has ever been as we face the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19.

This challenge has required swift action by many people across our company to ensure that the right preventative measures and protocols are in place to safeguard the health and safety of our people, their families and the communities in which we operate.

One of those people is Dr. Tom Lawley, Teck’s Medical Director. Dr. Lawley has worked tirelessly to ensure our response to COVID-19 is based on sound medical science and guidance from public health authorities.

Over the past several months, Dr. Lawley has received many questions about COVID-19 and our company’s response. Here, he answers some of the questions he receives most often.     

What guidance is Teck following when putting preventative measures in place and developing response protocols?

The response protocols and preventative measures we’ve put in place are based on guidance from Public Health Authorities in the jurisdictions where Teck operates. These include Health Canada, the BC Centre for Disease Control, Alberta Health Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, and Chile’s public health authorities. This ensures we are following the most recent proven, science-based medical guidance. Specific protocols are then developed in close collaboration with Teck’s Director of Occupational Health and Hygiene and the various health and safety leads at our sites. It’s a real team effort in every respect.

What are the major areas of focus in preventing COVID-19 at our operations?

The two big areas of focus are, of course, frequent and thorough handwashing with soap and water for 20 seconds and physical distancing. These are the most important and effective prevention measures. Stressing the importance of practising physical distancing – that’s keeping a minimum distance of two metres or six feet between yourself and others is a must. We’re also very focused on transportation to and from work. And also on emphasizing how critically important it is to talk to your supervisor and not come to work if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms – or are in close contact with someone who is – and to call a health line or a healthcare provider for support.

How do the practices implemented at our operations compare with those implemented by other industries or companies?

I’m in regular contact with other occupational physicians and, when I look at what’s being done elsewhere, I’m very confident that Teck is doing as well as, if not better than, other industries and companies. In fact, both the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and Interior Health have recently reviewed our protocols, and both confirmed that Teck has strong protocols in place for managing COVID-19. 

How will we respond to a COVID-19 case if one occurs at a Teck operation?

We have robust plans and processes in place to deal with a potential case at one of our operations. Part of that is based on the fact that we treat any potential case as an actual one, and immediately take the necessary steps for isolation, disinfection and contact tracing. In the event there is a case at a site, we’re ready to manage it to limit transmission.

What are the most important things we can do to contribute to stopping the spread at our worksite?

There are several important things we can do to contribute to stopping the spread at our sites. These include staying home if you’re experiencing symptoms, following public health guidelines, following Teck’s COVID-19 protocols, practising physical distancing, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and not touching your face. And, of course, the number one thing you can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 is wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. 

If you have a question about COVID-19 or Teck’s response to the pandemic, please email covid-19@teck.com