With our commitment to ensuring that our employees and contractors can perform their work safely, our vision is that every person goes home safely every day.
Health and safety is an issue that affects workers around the globe. Risks are inherent to all mining operations and the mining industry has developed best practices at international and national levels. We believe that injuries and occupational diseases can be prevented and recognize that everyone is entitled to work in a safe and healthy workplace. Potential safety hazards at mines include working near heavy equipment and working near rock faces, either on the surface or underground. Health and safety also includes the prevention of occupational diseases or injury resulting from exposure to harmful elements such as noise and dust.
Safety Management and Training
All sites are responsible for producing a Safety Management Plan. This plan establishes clear accountability for safety and health performance, details the controls and practices for minimizing hazards, and ensures effective audits of safety systems. There is also a requirement for regular reviews and updates of these plans, informed by employee feedback.
Since we believe that the responsibility to work safely lies with each one of us, we focus on providing the necessary skills, equipment and incentives so that our people always work in a safe and responsible manner. We invest significantly in onsite training at our mines to comply with national safety regulations and in response to employee consultations. This continuous dialogue helps us identify specific issues that require further attention.
Employee training and incentive programs are in place to promote safety incident reporting and the effective use of safety tools such as risk assessment in the workplace, safety interactions, and safety talks.
Our training focuses on creating an overarching ‘safety culture.’ In Brazil, our Abordagems system (safety approach) targets the values, attitudes and behaviour of employees, contractors and their family members. In Mexico and Peru, our SafeStart system provides practical skills and safety awareness training to reduce critical errors that can lead to safety incidents and injuries at work and home. In 2020, a new audit of safety culture at both sites in Mexico was completed by SafeMap, a leading provider of competency-based training solutions for the mining industry, which identified key areas for improvement planned for 2021.
Monitoring and Addressing Safety Risks
A good safety culture includes a process of constant improvement by which risks are continuously identified and responsibly managed.
In alignment with a Health and Safety Declaration for each of our mine sites, we monitor types and rates of injury to understand if our efforts effectively increase safety in the workforce. These indicators are:
- Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) – (Number of lost time accidents x 200,000) / Hours worked
- Lost Time Severity Rate – (Number of lost days x 200,000) / Hours worked
- Lost Time Injury (LTI) – a lost time injury is an occupational injury that results in the loss of one or more days beyond the initial day of injury from the worker’s scheduled work.
- Occupational illness – number of people who were officially recognized by local health authorities with an occupational illness
Complying with and going beyond, safety regulations is essential for our business. We work closely with the Ministry of Labour in all countries where we operate and carry out audits to identify risks and prevent accidents. In all Great Panther mine sites, we conduct detailed risk analyses to identify the risks and hazards associated with all routine and specialized tasks. During this process, we evaluate the probability and severity of an injury. This process also results in a recommendation of the type of equipment for workers that must be used and other measures to mitigate risks.
We update our safety risk analyses whenever a new task or change in the environment warrants it. At all mine locations, we engage third parties as needed to carry out specific work environment studies (noise, dust, vibration, temperature, and lighting). The outcomes of these studies determine whether or not the current exposure is within the permissible limit of the norm and if mitigation actions are needed.
At Great Panther, we have zero tolerance for alcohol and illicit drug use that may potentially impair a worker’s judgement and risk their own safety or the safety of others. According to local legislation at each mine site, we perform alcohol and drug control tests periodically, randomly and after all accidents or incidents for all employees and contractors.
We have a corporate crisis plan and emergency response plans for different situations or contingencies at each operation. These are reviewed and updated throughout the year. The emergency response plans focus on protecting our people, the environment and our assets. During the year, we conduct emergency preparedness activities to test and refine our procedures for a variety of incidents, from landslides to chemical spills. These activities include evacuation drills, emergency simulations, first aid and search and rescue training by our emergency brigades.