Statistically speaking, major mining accidents are a bit of a rarity. When a severe accident occurs, it becomes the lead news story for several days. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of mining operations all over the world that continue to excavate as per their usual procedures. Therefore, the question is, “are these mines acting safely?” There are safety points that every mining operation can and should implement. Mining is a dangerous job, were safety must be priority number one, at all times. Are you sure that mistakes, of any caliber, aren’t being made at your mine?
Too Many Slogans, Not Enough Action
Putting up safety slogan posters and issuing “action” memos is an easy way for management to promote workplace safety; but if executive leaders truly put safety first, you’ll see them in action. Management should be following up on monthly reviews and exemplifying the safety signage they are posting. Maintaining safety checklists and protocols are important, a mining manager should work closely with their team to inspect safety systems; a task which creates a great opportunity for managers to lead by example. Showing workers that they are genuinely serious about safety will go a lot further than any “break room slogan.”
Letting Things Pass
An accident can occur in the blink of an eye. The same could be said for overlooking the conditions that may lead up to that accident. When management overlooks minor breaches for the sake of expediency, they are essentially showing workers that they can cut corners. This is not the message you want to send. The safety guidelines apply to all workers, during all shifts, at all times. Anything less, even the “smallest” of infractions, is putting the entire operation at risk.
Not Recognizing Good Work
There are many mining operations which post a sign that reads “____ days since the last accident.” The hope is that the number of days between accidents continues to grow. While that is certainly a “hat tip” to the workers, it really doesn’t go far enough in providing positive reinforcement for following the safety rules. Does your management team acknowledge when safety requirements are met?
Ignoring Safety Protocols
Safety protocols are not created on a whim; a lot of effort has gone into those procedures. However, if management ignores protocol because they find them “intrusive,” they are doing a disservice to the entire operation. Instead, management should be receptive to hearing feedback from the workers, if and when there is an issue with a particular safety practice. Remember, the main work force is the front-line when it comes to maintaining safety. They carry out procedures and are within the work conditions each day,and they will have great insight when it comes to knowing what works and what doesn’t.
Not Embracing Safety Routines
There are safety routines including checklists before, during, and after a work shift, that every mining operator needs to follow. By sticking to these routines, workers at all levels of experience will know what hazards to look out for during their shifts. Yes, you are “drilling safety procedures” into the workers’ head, but that is how they will stick.
Lack of Focus for Safety Observations
The best way to see if safety procedures are being followed is to observe those procedures in action. The mine’s management team should be conducting safety inspections on a regular basis. These occurrences need to be more than just checking off a list; constructive criticism should be offered to all workers in order to help them improve their actions. Catching a worker doing something wrong is not the main goal, noticing an error and challenging them to do better is what will make it a safer work environment for the entire staff.