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 are issues 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 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.
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. At all 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.
Great Panther has been closely monitoring the effects of the spread of the coronavirus respiratory disease (“COVID-19”), focusing on the jurisdictions in which the Company operates and its head office location in Canada. During this period of uncertainty, Great Panther’s priority is to safeguard the health and safety of personnel and host communities, support and enforce government actions to slow the spread of COVID-19 and assess and mitigate the risks to our business continuity. For a discussion of the impacts of COVID-19 on the Company’s operations and the risks and uncertainties associated with COVID-19, see the Company’s most recently filed Management’s Discussion and Analysis available on SEDAR at www.sedar.com or on the Company’s website at www.greatpanther.com under the heading “Investors”.
Operating Safely and Responsibly – We Are Stronger Together
Great Panther has developed and implemented robust COVID-19 prevention, monitoring, and response plans following the guidelines of the World Health Organization and the regulatory agencies of Canada, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru to ensure a safe work environment at its offices and sites.
These plans include mandatory medical screening and testing on arrival at site, requirements to report infection or contact with those infected, restrictions on international travel and any non-essential domestic travel, alternative work arrangements, hygiene precautions and physical distancing practices, among others. Specific areas have been prepared for the isolation, testing and care of employees. Increased cleaning and sanitizing procedures have been introduced, especially in frequently visited areas. Training campaigns to educate all employees and contractors, their families and local communities on preventive measures and hygiene best practices continue regularly.
Working with Communities during COVID-19
The Company has been in dialogue with the relevant government authorities, including communication regarding the enhanced safety protocols implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 cases at our operations and surrounding communities. Although each one of our host communities is facing different challenges, COVID-19 community response continues as the priority of our social performance teams. All sites have adapted and leveraged social investment plans and community development programs to respond to specific community needs and concerns.