Safety & Health

The Sentinels of Safety award is the oldest established occupational safety award. Herbert Hoover established the award in 1925. The Sentinels of Safety award is co-sponsored by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and the National Mining Association.

Firecreek Project Awarded National Mining Association's Sentinels of Safety

Firecreek Project Awarded National Mining Association's Sentinels of Safety

Safety and SMD – Our families and clients are counting on us…Our goal is zero harm to our employees.

SMD’s mission statement is to be the leader in safe, productive, and innovative mining solutions. Our core value is to empower, challenge, and reward people to achieve safe, efficient production.

As of September 2013, we have worked 2,500,000 hours and have gone over 1,000 days without a day away from work or Lost Time Accident (LTA). Since our last LTA, we have driven approximately 220,000 feet of ore and waste drift and moved over 4,250,000 tons of stope ore and backfill material.

Historically, our safety system has been focused on the conditions, training and procedures (the “rules and tools”) to do our work safely. We have now been moving our efforts to eliminating unsafe behaviors. One of our mining partners, Newmont Mining Corporation, developed a program called the Safety Journey. The Safety Journey describes a path from “safety being only awareness” to “safety being fully integrated into how we do business”. We participated with them in 2011 in this Journey at Newmont properties. We like the program so much, and believe strongly in the message, that we have adopted this program and are implementing the concepts throughout our organization and completed our own initial training in 2012.

We have continued our efforts in the Safety Journey to establish a stronger safety culture within SMD in the form of a behavior based safety approach that focuses on six pillars of employee motivations and abilities. We believe we are starting to see results in our workforce as a result.

All MSHA 2012The “All” MSHA Reportable Rate represents the number of MSHA reportable injuries per 200,000 employee-hours worked. The “All” rate, by definition, includes Fatal incidents, Non Fatal Days Lost, which includes time away from work LTAs and incidents which result in Restricted Duty, and medical incidents that do not result in restricted duty and the employee is back to work with a full duty release. The definition of an MSHA reportable injury is very well defined and should be relatively standard between companies. As we incurred significant growth in 2010, 2011 and 2012, our “All” MSHA Reportable Rate increased in 2011. We realized we had to act and, we believe, our efforts have helped us achieve our company best as of September 2013. There is still room for improvement, and we will continue our efforts here.

2012 Experience

The Experience Modification Rate is utilized by Workman’s Compensation to determine premiums. In theory, a rate of 1.0 would indicate being on par with other underground mining companies. Our Experience Modification Rate has remained below the industry average of 1.0 for the last 10 years. We did see our Experience Modification Rate increase in 2010 and 2011 as our severity of injuries increased. However, as we focused on safety, increased our training efforts, and have worked on cultural shifts, our rate has been trending in the right direction – the severity of our incidents is significantly lower than it used to be.

Our safety motto is, “The most important job you have is to go home safe and uninjured at the end of your shift.” Ron Guill penned this phrase many years ago. It resides on every brass board so when the miners head underground, they know we mean it. We provide many tools, both in safety systems and equipment to help everyone work safely. Our safety system is anchored on the belief that our miners must be able to make decisions and correct situations immediately as their shift progresses. We recognize the importance of, and are committed to maintaining a constructive and aggressive program to identify and control hazards to life and property.

High-level Risk Assessments are completed for various tasks we encounter on a daily basis. The Risk Assessment defines the tasks, establishes the risks in a well thought out manner, and then establishes procedures required to perform the task safely. The procedures (SOPs) are documented and reviewed with employees. Task training is also developed based upon results of High-level Risk Assessment.

Work area inspections are completed utilizing the 5-point safety system. Lead miners or superintendents review everyone’s 5-point cards throughout the work day to ensure employees are working safely. A field level risk assessment is also incorporated into the 5-point safety card to review daily activities as necessary.

We hold daily lineout meetings where immediate concerns are discussed. More in-depth weekly “tool box” meetings are conducted with each and every member of the crew to ensure everyone is working safely. Safety must remain at the forefront of everything we do. If it is not safe, we must make it safe.

We perform task analysis and planned observations as well. We believe that we need to do the job safely and correctly every time. We welcome you to observe us day or night, Monday to Friday, or Saturday and Sunday. We work with the same care and high regard to standards anytime.

We believe safety and efficiency go hand in hand. If you are working safely, it is most likely efficient as well. A select few of our most recent safety accomplishments are listed below.

2007 – Sentinels of Safety Winner for the Small Underground Metal Group at Cortez Hills. Approximately 9,100 feet of drifting was completed while working 64,860 hours.

2008 – The Chukar mine accumulated just over 135,000 hours with no injuries. Over 600,000 tons of ore were mined, 10,500 feet of drifting was completed, and 250,000 tons of backfill were placed during the year.

2008 – SMD mined 200,000 hours with 1 medical reportable injury at the Leeville Project.

2008 – SMD was recognized by MSHA with a Sentinels of Safety Award for the “Safest Underground Mine in 2008” at our Exodus project.

2010 – SMD worked over 585,000 man-hours without an LTA or permanently disabling injury.

2011 – Sentinels of Safety Winner for the Small Underground Metal Group at the Fire Creek project. The portal pad, infrastructure, portal and 2,000 feet of drifting were completed while working 27,250 hours.

2012 – Sentinels of Safety Winner for the Small Underground Metal Group at the Fire Creek project. A total of 45,715 hours were worked injury free.

We are also proactive in ensuring the health of our workforce. Our experienced professionals are well versed in ventilation, dust, noise, Diesel Particulate Matter (DPM) and other health issues that directly affect our workforce.

We have invested heavily in operator cabs by purchasing new equipment with cabs and retrofitting existing equipment with cabs. Cabs help tremendously in reducing noise exposure and can help in reducing exposure to DPM.

SMD has also upgraded virtually all of our primary fleet to cleaner burning EPA Tier 3 and 4i engines. Other efforts to reduce DPM have included entire fleet operation on bio-diesel fuels and installation of exhaust diesel particulate filters. We were the first to operate an entire fleet of underground equipment on a B-50 bio-diesel with no extraordinary maintenance issues. The majority of our prime fleet is equipped with diesel particulate filters. We have installed and operated the first Interim Tier 4 engine in a large haul truck (~400 hp) that is operating with NOx reducing diesel exhaust fluid.

We believe that no job is so important that we cannot take care to perform our work in a safe and healthy manner.

Look to the professionals at SMD for safe, efficient production. We look forward to advancing your project in a safe manner.

And if you want to establish your career with us and are not experienced, we do extensive training for each task we complete. If you have the desire to learn, we will teach you what you need to know to complete the task safely.