Despite these successes, we still have work to do before we achieve our vision of everyone going home safe and healthy every day. In 2014 we had two fatalities: one at our Coal Mountain Operations in British Columbia and another at our Tequila exploration project camp in Chile.
“These tragic incidents reinforce the importance of remaining ever vigilant,” said Bob Kelly, Vice President, Health and Safety. “They also prompted us to develop a High-Potential Risk Control (HPRC) Strategy, the guiding principle of which is that it is unacceptable to have serious injuries and fatalities in our workplace.”
The HPRC strategy is the result of a conscious decision we made to direct our safety efforts and resources towards those events that have the greatest ability to seriously or fatally injure any member of our team.
What does it mean to “control” a risk? Put simply, it means putting in place measures to effectively manage a safety risk. Going further, “critical controls” are measures that, when implemented, are most effective in preventing the unwanted event. A tenet of our HPRC strategy is ensuring that the procedural, physical and behavioural controls we have put in place at Teck to prevent fatalities are working as intended.
It is also important that any safety strategy achieve a balance between the cultural and technical elements. In this case, our HPRC strategy – the technical element – must work in tandem with and support the cultural element, our Courageous Safety Leadership (CSL) philosophy.
Our HPRC strategy aligns with our CSL philosophy, in that our people – acting as courageous safety leaders – are at the heart of our safety journey. Throughout the development of the HPRC strategy, we learned that, although a number of critical controls may exist to manage a risk, it is individual employees who are the key to implementing them. It is the men and women on the job every day who have to understand the risks associated with each task, so they can ensure the right controls are in place to stay safe.
We can look back at incidents that have already happened to identify many of our high-potential risks. But that does not provide us with insight into other risks that may exist but that have not yet generated an incident or fatality.
To help close this gap, we find that both individual and team-based risk assessments have an important role to play. One example of an individual risk assessment is our Take 5 personal safety planning tool in our coal business. For this initiative, we produced a pocket-size booklet to help employees form the habit of taking the time to assess workplace risks before they begin a task. Our Work Team Risk Assessments take place at our sites, where teams gather together and walk and talk through an everyday activity, asking the question: when I do this activity, what could potentially seriously or fatally injure me?
For those tasks that have a high-potential risk, we then ask what current and additional controls can be put in place and how we can review the effectiveness of these controls over time. We record the outcomes of the analysis and implement an action plan to close the gaps. These plans are then formally tracked.
We continue to track HPIs at our operations in order to learn from them. It is our goal to ensure that every one of the more than 10,000 employees and contractors across Teck adopts the principles of Courageous Safety Leadership and our HPRC strategy. By doing so, we will be able to achieve our vision of everyone going home safe and healthy every day.