For Dominion, safety is not only a priority, it is a core value. While priorities change, values are ingrained and constant. A goal of Zero Harm drives our health and safety culture.
At the Ekati mine, we use an integrated health, safety, and environment management system (HSEMS) to meet our goals and requirements under ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001. The HSEMS is a series of management processes that provide a framework for ensuring that tasks are performed consistently, correctly, and effectively to drive continuous improvement in health, safety, and environmental performance.
In India, we have a Health and Safety Committee that meets regularly to review and monitor work standards.
One of the ways we measure safety performance is through the All Injury Frequency Rate (AIFR), which includes lost-time injuries, restricted work duties, and medical treatment cases.
In 2016, the Ekati mine achieved an AIFR of 0.77, a significant improvement over the previous year’s AIFR of 1.06. We are extremely proud of this achievement, which could not have happened without the commitment of all employees and contractors to improve their own safety and that of their co-workers. In recognition, all employees and contractors working at least three months of full-time service were given a safety award.
A catalyst for improvement was the behavioural-based Zero Incident Process (ZIP) program. Virtually all permanent and contract employees have participated in ZIP training and, in 2016, we rolled out in-depth training for leaders, which focuses on safety leadership principles and building a safety culture.
One of our priorities for the year was to increase reporting of near misses and hazards – these are situations that did not result in injury or illness, but had the potential to do so. This exercise compelled people to look further into their work habits and workplace hazards, and make necessary changes. Collecting this type of information helps create a culture that seeks to identify and control safety hazards, which in turn reduces risks and the potential for harm.
FY2015 – 1.24
FY2016 – 1.06
FY2017 – 0.77
At the Ekati mine, physician assistants provide a full range of medical services for employees’ occupational health and personal health issues.
Because the mine is an industrial workplace, we also monitor workers who may be exposed to occupational health hazards as a function of their regular duties for long-term health risks. Monitoring programs focus on diesel particulate, silica, welding fumes, and noise levels. Medical surveillance programs include annual pulmonary (lung) and audiometric (hearing) testing.
All individuals working at the mine for two weeks or more must first undergo a full medical review and meet certain requirements to ensure that they are fit for remote work. In many cases, these reviews identify conditions, such as diabetes, which need medical attention. We then direct the individuals to health resources for support.
Health and Wellness
The Working on Wellness (WoW) program is a collaboration between Dominion’s Health and Safety department and the Government of the Northwest Territories’ Department of Health and Social Services. The program aims to reduce preventable cancers and other chronic diseases through comprehensive workplace education and wellness activities.
We have implemented the WoW program at the Ekati mine, which has its own kitchen facilities. With employees working and staying at the mine for two weeks at a time, WoW can help instill healthy behaviours. It includes modules on screening and prevention, physical activity, healthy eating, sun and heat safety, tobacco reduction/cessation, and sleep. The results of the program have been highly positive:
- About 180 employees participated in two separate walking challenges
- 83 employees participated in a Biggest Loser challenge focused on losing weight
- About 180 employees attended blood pressure clinics, where they had their blood pressure checked and learned about managing blood pressure through physical activity and healthy eating
- 93% of employees would recommend WoW to a colleague or friend
- 72% of employees reported that WoW had influenced them to make healthier choices
- 64% of all employees participated in at least one of the workplace wellness activities
Given the risks associated with mining, we have robust emergency response and crisis management capabilities. The Emergency Response Team (ERT) at the Ekati mine is a dedicated team of 82 volunteer employees who are professionally and competently trained to protect our workforce during emergencies. Each new member completes an intensive five-day program that includes theoretical and practical testing of emergency response and mine rescue techniques. Training time is crucial for the competency of our ERT members. The Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) requires a minimum of 48 hours of ERT training per year; at Dominion, our policy is a minimum of 72 hours.
Our preparedness was put to the test with the fire at the Ekati process plant in June 2016. Right after the fire broke out, the Ekati and Misery ERTs were called to the scene. We also requested mutual aid from the Diavik mine ERT, which was flown in by helicopter. The merged teams, who are trained to the same standard and using the same equipment, worked together to fight the fire for 10 hours. Thanks to their efforts, the fire was contained and no injuries occurred.