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.

Lee Smith Mine being awarded the Sentinels of Safety Award.

Lee Smith Mine being awarded the Sentinels of Safety Award.

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.

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 in the Safety Journey at Newmont properties we worked in 2011. 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. We completed our own initial training in 2012 and held company-wide sessions.

We continued the Safety Journey in 2013 by incorporating Vital Behaviors. The Vital Behaviors Program is based upon Patterson, Grenny, et al, “Vital Smarts” Six Sources of Influence. Patterson, et al, put forth that we must influence at least four of the six sources of influence to see lasting change in any behavior. We are asking our employees to consider their actions in terms of their motivations and abilities and to ensure that these are aligned with safe work practices.  We have trained about half of our workforce in Vital Behaviors and how to handle change that occurs around us and will continue this training in 2016.

2015 msha all reportable

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The “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 that 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 company 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 significant reductions in our “All” MSHA Reportable Rate. After a company best performance in 2014, we incurred a significant uptick in our incidents in 2015. Our industry as a whole saw a similar uptick. We have not determined any significant cause for the increase in our “All” rate; however, we remain committed to zero harm.

2015 experience

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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. We ended 2013 with a severity measure of 9.

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 workday 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.

2013 – Nevada Mining Association’s Underground Operations, Small Category (20-99 employees), First Place at Starvation Canyon Mine. Crews here worked 82,000 hours injury free in 2013.

2013 – Nevada Mining Association’s Underground Operations, Small Category (20-99 employees), Third Place at Starvation Canyon Mine. Crews here worked 185,000 hours with one injury for a Reportable Rate of 1.09 in 2013.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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.

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 of the prime 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.