Occupational Health and Wellness
We recognize that there is more to ensuring worker and community health and well-being than simply working to prevent injuries. We strive to create and maintain a safe, healthy working environment through the prevention and treatment of occupational diseases. We want our workforce and our neighbouring communities to avoid exposure to occupational illnesses that are both preventable and detectable.
Through biological monitoring, environmental monitoring and various medical examinations, we seek to prevent occupational diseases from arising in the first place. Common occupational diseases in the mining industry include dust and noise exposure, fatigue, and trauma from vibration and strains.
We follow a hierarchy of hazard controls to reduce and eliminate environmental exposure to occupational disease, where the last line of defence is Personal Protective Equipment and the strongest defence is eliminating the hazard altogether. Sites reported a total of 39 occupational diseases in 2016, which amounts to an occupational disease rate (ODR) of 0.20. Our industrial hygiene program, rolled out in 2013, has helped sites implement best practices to identify and mitigate risks associated with exposures.
In general, each mine carries out its own specific occupational health program, depending on its individual demographics and risks of exposure. Programs include health sampling and surveys for hazards such as chemical, dust and noise exposures, as well as providing such services as ergonomic surveys, pulmonary function tests and physical exams. Although no specific corporate-wide programs exist, several mines have proactive programs in place to address the potential for serious diseases and health problems, including drug and alcohol abuse, smoking cessation and diabetes.
During 2016, mines completed their quantitative characterization of site exposures for chemical, physical, ergonomic and biological agents. This work will serve as the basis for site industrial hygiene monitoring plans for 2017, and for ongoing risk assessment activities.
Implementation of Industrial Hygiene and Occupational Health Software
Over the summer, the Occupational Health and Safety team initiated detailed design of the Industrial Hygiene/Occupational Hygiene (IH/OH) modules within our sustainability and safety management software. Completed IH/OH qualitative risk assessments and Similar Exposure Group (SEG) development will be incorporated into the software tool to develop and report on leading indicators such as air sampling and medical monitoring. The software tool, and access to the detailed information captured within the tool, will improve our ability to anticipate, recognize, evaluate and prevent occupational diseases.
Community Safety and Health Programs
For the benefit of our local communities, we coordinate health programs that provide basic medical services through local community and government organizations. Several mines also offer wellness programs for employees, family members and local communities. For example, Red Lake, Los Filos and Peñasquito hosted popular health and safety fairs, which welcomed local communities on-site for educational and fun activities to raise awareness about health and safety in the community and on-site.