3rd Annual Health and Safety Excellence for Mining Conference Summary

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This year, the 3rd annual HSE conference on mining safety was held on June 17-18, 2015, in Toronto, Canada, hosted by Marcus Evans (Link to conference and agenda). The organization was kind enough to provide Nimonik with an admission Press pass, and I was keen to more about the newest best practices in mining health safety. Since Nimonik works with a number of mining companies such as Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Glencore, Iron Ore Canada, and VALE, we are always attempting to keep up with the latest developments and share best practices across our clients.

As a recovering salesperson who is still learning about safety and environmental compliance, this conference was a great new experience for me.  I asked myself, “Can I get a fundamental understanding of the importance of a culture of safety within such a high-risk industry?” Fortunately, the conference delivered on both days with various related topics covering the groundwork of the safety culture that most participants promote in their organization.

The two-day event was held at the Novotel Conference Center right in downtown Toronto. I was glad I had arrived early: there was not  an empty seat in the house! The conference was chaired by Lawrence Watkins, Director of Health and Safety for Teck Resources. Lawrence was familiar with Nimonik when I introduced myself, and he proved to be a very capable conference-chair, keeping the audience alert, responsive and interested during and between each presentation.

Topics covered in the conference included:

  • Analyzing the Results of a Safety Climate Study on a Mobile Workforce
  • How Feelings Impact Decision Making and At-Risk Behavior
  • Building Effective and Efficient Training Systems (This was the topic of a luncheon provided by conference sponsor DuPont)
  • Our Health & Safety Journey and High Potential Risk Control
  • Tackling One of the Mining Industry’s Key Occupational Health Challenges: Fit to Work
  • Emphasizing a Robust Security Program to Maintain the Safety of All Employees
  • The Journey and Meaning Behind Achieving Zero Harm
  • … and many, many more.

It was evident fairly quickly that all the speakers who presented their case studies had a great deal of experience in their respective positions, and they provided valuable insight to their colleagues in order to help promote safe practices, safety moments, and moving away from a ‘reactive’ culture and towards a ‘proactive’ culture. They also enhanced our ability to identify aspects of operations that are prone to risk and to incident.

As an outsider, it’s reassuring to know that mining safety is a passion for most. Many of the presenters humanized the incidents that they disclosed, and others steered away from being self-congratulatory, stressing that the work of health and safety was never over.

If one were to ask me what I thought the take-home, one-sentence message would be from this conference, I’d have to look no further than to each case study presented. The unified message of the conference and through each presentation was that one incident, or one death, was one too many and I couldn’t agree more.

Many thanks once again to all who helped make the conference happen:  the presenters, organizers, Marcus Evans for hosting the event, and the event sponsors that helped make it happen. I look forward to many more future conferences, which will undoubtedly be a great success each time!

Link to conference and agenda