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, control and mitigation of exposures that can lead to disease.
This is accomplished through environmental, biological and medical monitoring, and through the quantification of occupational exposure risks. Assessing these risks allows for the prioritization of control efforts, as well as for exposure reduction or elimination. Common occupational diseases in the mining industry include respirable diseases associated with mineral dust and gas exposure, noise-induced hearing loss and vibrational disorders.
During 2017, sites continued to characterize site exposures to chemical, physical, ergonomic, and biological agents, establishing quantitative baselines. These baselines are serving as the basis for site-specific exposure reduction plans to specific high-risk agents, and monitoring activities in cases where additional work may be necessary.
Implementation of Industrial Hygiene and Occupational Health Software
Work continued through 2017 to customize, enhance and roll-out the Industrial Hygiene/Occupational Hygiene (IH/OH) modules, which is part of the Enablon suite of software. Completed IH/OH qualitative risk assessments and Similar Exposure Group (SEG) development were incorporated into the software tool to manage and report out on IH data, develop and communicate on leading indicators, and manage and drive medical monitoring activities in the Occupational Health program. 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.
Shifting Occupational Health and Hygiene Activities towards Exposure Reduction
In late 2017, sites summarized their exposure data for three priority carcinogens – arsenic, crystalline silica and diesel particulates. The purpose of this was multifold: to determine our current exposure paradigm in relation to these agents; to understand the potential impact to the organization if impending occupational exposure limits change and to target these three exposure agents in the initiation of Site Exposure Reduction Plans. This will allow sites to set annual exposure reduction targets per population basis and make meaningful reductions in the exposed worker population.
Medical Monitoring Guidance
Building on the development of medical monitoring best practice guidance in 2016, medical monitoring triggers have been developed that tie into the best practice documents and complement the decision statistics used for industrial hygiene. This has provided consistency in the delivery of medical monitoring services.
Community Safety and Health Programs
403-3For 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.