Since the success of our company rests upon the well-being of our employees and contractors at all times, safety is the center of our core values.
Health and safety is an issue that affects workers around the globe. Health and safety risks are inherent to all mining operations, and the mining industry has developed best practices at international and national levels. We believe that all 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 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. That is why safety is our priority, before we act, in every job, every day. We prevent harm by looking out for one another, our communities, and the environment because life matters most. 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. This topic is considered one of the most material by our employees, contractors, and regulators in the context of all Great Panther sites.
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, which help us identify specific issues that require further attention. Training focuses on creating an over-arching ‘safety culture,’ including through our SafeStart program in Mexico and Abordagems system (safety approach) in Brazil, which targets the values, attitudes and behaviour of employees, contractors and their family members.
In alignment with a Health and Safety Declaration we developed 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:
- Incident rate – number of accidents/person hours worked x 200,000 worked hours
- Severity rate – number of lost days/person hours worked x 200,000 worked hours
- Occupational illness – number of people that were officially recognized by local health authorities with an occupational illness
Monitoring and Addressing Safety Risks
A good safety culture includes a process of constant improvement by which risks are continuously identified and responsibly managed. 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 results in a recommendation of the type of equipment for female and male workers that must be used and other measures to mitigate risks. We update our risk analyses every one to two years or whenever a new task or change in the environment warrants it.
In certain locations of our mine sites, we engage third parties 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.
At Great Panther, we have zero tolerance for alcohol and drug use that may potentially impair a workers’ 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. Tests can be done before starting a shift or during work hours. Any person who tests positive for either drugs or alcohol before entering the premises is denied access to the facilities. Testing positive in a random exam before starting a shift or during working hours is cause for immediate dismissal.
We have a corporate crisis plan and emergency response plans for different situations or contingencies at each operation that 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.