Strengthening our safety performance requires us to ask questions, such as what are the risks that can cause serious and fatal injuries? What controls need to be put in place? And are our controls effective?
When the High-Potential Risk Control (HPRC) strategy was introduced at Teck in 2014, Coal Mountain Operations (CMO) in southeastern B.C. began team-based reviews with a focus on the processing plant.
“Throughout the development of the HPRC strategy, we continued to stress that, although a number of critical controls may exist to manage a risk, it is individual employees who are the key to implementing them,” says Lawrence Watkins, Vice President, Health and Safety. “It is the women and men 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.”
Employees Across the Operation
While their work started in one location, the team at CMO knew that broadening their critical review to all parts of the operation was the next important step toward creating a safer, healthier work environment.
“We engaged all our employees and asked them those big safety questions,” said Craig Bishop, Superintendent, Processing, CMO. “And from the feedback we gathered, and as an example, the number one concern in the processing plant was working around moving conveyors.”
A team with representatives from various parts of the operation — plant operators, maintenance, labourers, training, health and safety — was assembled to go through the process of identifying the high-potential risks associated with the conveyors, and what measures were currently in place to control those risks.
Minimizing the Risks Associated with Conveyors
CMO’s processing plant uses belt-type conveyors that move at high speeds; the review determined that the largest risks were associated with serious injury and fatalities resulting from the movement of the conveyors, employees’ proximity to them when working, and a lack of guarding around most areas of the equipment.
After evaluating options to determine what type of guarding would work best — including looking at fabricating it at CMO — the most effective and cost-efficient choice decided on was the purchase of a lightweight guarding material that could be installed by pairs of operators and welders from CMO.
Installation work then began and, to date, more than 75% of the conveyors in the plant are now guarded, totalling more than 850 metres of protection in the highest priority areas.
“The feedback about the project has been incredibly positive,” said Craig. “It’s reinforced the understanding that it’s so important to speak up when it comes to safety, and that we’re listening to those concerns and taking action on them with real, practical solutions.”
While CMO is nearing the end of active mining, they continue to be focused on improving their safety performance and sharing learnings from this initiative with other operations.