Health and Safety

Health and Safety

Why is health and safety important? 

Mining, by its nature, has potential hazards that must be carefully managed. On a daily basis, mine workers may be engaged in drilling and blasting rock, operating heavy machinery, using explosives and chemicals, working with high voltage electricity, gases, working at heights, working with high temperature materials as well as other complex and potentially dangerous tasks. 

Pan American Silver is deeply committed to protecting the health, safety and well-being of our employees, contractors, suppliers, and community partners where we operate. Operating safely is a moral imperative. We believe that operating safe mines and building a culture of safety are directly related to our operational success and the ability to create long-term value for COIs and society.

Material TopicHealth and safety
Sub-TopicEmergency management
DefinitionProtecting the health, safety and well-being of our employees, contractors
Feedback From COIsOur workers want safe working conditions and additional safety training.
How We’re RespondingWe increased training hours provided in 2018 by 11 percent.

We launched a behaviour-based safety program in Peru.

Potential Risks and Impacts

  • Industrial accidents, equipment failure, or ground falls resulting in worker injuries, delayed production, or loss of social acceptance

Related SDGs

Our approach

Safety is always a priority for us, with zero harm being the primary goal at all facilities. We are continually striving to prevent workplace injuries through improved training, technology, and innovation. 

Policy

  • Health and Safety Policy – Sets out our commitments and the specific actions required to meet our health and safety objectives. 

Programs and Initiatives

  • The Pan American Silver Safety Pledge and Cardinal Rules (Pledge and Rules) – Set out our fundamental expectations and rules for safety at sites, which apply to all employees and contractors. The Pledge and Rules have been incorporated into our induction training and safety talks. 
  • TSM Health and Safety Protocol – All sites conducted TSM self-assessments in 2018 and developed action plans to continually improve their performance. 
  • Serious Incident Reduction Initiative – Focuses on preventing serious incidents and fatalities through training and site-specific action plans. We conduct comprehensive investigations of serious incidents and use the findings to improve our performance. 
  • Health and safety supervisor training program – Provides leadership and technical training for front-line supervisors.

Monitoring

  • Safety audits – Each mine is audited annually by a corporate safety department team led by the Director of Health and Safety. Areas identified as high priority are elevated to the Chief Operating Officer for immediate action.

Accountability

  • Senior Vice President, Technical Services & Process Optimization oversees safety in the organization.
  • The Management Safety Committee, Director of Safety, and Safety Coordinator oversee implementation of company-wide initiatives identified through our risk assessment process, safety audit programs, and incident investigations.
  • The Board’s Health, Safety, Environment and Communities Committee reviews adherence to the health and safety policy, reviews safety statistics, trends, and incident reports, and provides input on the overall safety direction of the Company. 

Our Performance

To reduce serious injuries at our mines, we have been working hard to improve our safety performance through enhancing our audit system and training processes. We are particularly proud of the safety achievements at four of our mines, where hours worked without a lost time injury (“LTI”) exceeded 1 million hours.

Alamo Dorado  +7.8 million hours
La Colorada +1.5 million hours
Dolores +4.2 million hours
Huaron +1.4 million hours

Despite overall performance improvements in the past few years, in 2018, the number of LTIs increased to 25, which resulted in a lost time injury frequency (LTIF) of 1.41, and a failure to meet our goal of 1.20. Our safety performance, however, continues to be in line with or substantially better than industry performance of US metal mines.

Pan American Silver Lost Time Injury Rates(1) Compared to Industry Lost Time Incident Rates in the United States reported by U.S. Metal Mines(2)

(1) Pan American Silver lost time injury frequency (LTIF) is calculated as the number of lost time injuries, including fatalities, in the exposure period multiplied by 1 million hours and divided by the total number of hours worked in that period.

(2) U.S. Metal Mines lost time injury frequency (LTIF) is calculated per 1 million hours. The sum of fatal and non-fatal lost days are taken as equivalent to Pan American Silver lost time injuries. Source: Mine Injury and Worktime, Quarterly, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health, 2018.

Safety Performance(1)

(1) Includes employees and contractors at operating mines, and active development and exploration projects.

(2) Lost time injury frequency is calculated as the number of lost time injuries, including fatalities, in the exposure period multiplied by 1 million hours and divided by the total number of hours worked in that period.

(3) Lost time injury severity is calculated as the number of workdays lost due to lost time injuries multiplied by 1 million and divided by the total exposure hours. We count 6,000 lost workdays in the event of a fatal accident.

We have found the most common lost time incidents to be the result of operating machinery, haulage, rock fall, slips, and falls. Workers not following standard operating procedures has been identified as a key contributing factor to safety incidents.

Zero fatal incidents is Pan American Silver’s long-standing goal, and in 2018 we were very saddened to experience a fatality at our Dolores mine, as well as a severe accident at our COSE project in Argentina. A common root cause identified in both incidents was a failure of workers to follow standard operating procedures. Preventative actions identified to
reduce the possibility of similar occurrences in the future included:

  • Enhancing contractor management programs, including supervisor training; equipment operation authorization/certification.
  • Improving work procedures for certain tasks/equipment and training on updated procedures. 
  • Re-training workers on the Pledge and Rules.

Serious Incident Reduction Initiative 

The mining industry has significantly reduced overall injury rates, but when injuries do occur, they tend to be serious. Consequently, we are continually working to prevent injuries. In 2016, we expanded our extensive training program, focusing on two aspects of our Serious Incident Reduction Initiative – culture and supervisory training. By the end of 2017, we had trained the majority of our front-line supervisory workers on the technical and leadership skills necessary to change behaviour and on training others to always put safety first. During 2018, we continued to bolster existing programs by creating greater awareness amongst our personnel and reducing the occurrence of unpredictable events and human error that are often at the root of serious incidents. 

In 2018, we piloted a behaviour-based safety program at our two Peruvian mines. The program objective is to reduce the number of safety incidents caused by human error by empowering workers to take a more active role in their own safety as well as to build a mine culture that supports workers in consistently making safe choices. We plan to continue refining the program at Huaron and Morococha and roll it out at our Dolores mine. 

Safety Training

In 2018, we completed over 700,000 hours of training at our sites, a 10 percent increase in training hours over 2017. 

Due to supervisor turnover at some of our sites, we
will be conducting another round of supervisor training in 2019.

Safety Training Hours

Safety Training TypeTotal Hours
General Safety400,802
Mining Induction127,439
Geotechnical9,552
Formal Safety Meetings152,261
Mine Rescue16,439
Total (1)706,493

(1) Total training hours for employees and contractors at operating mines, and active development and exploration projects.

Health and Safety Audits

In 2018, all sites conducted self-assessments against the TSM Health and Safety Protocol. All sites, other than Dolores (where a fatality occurred), met the TSM Level target criteria. Our sites also developed action plans to continually improve their TSM scores.

Although the number of non-compliance findings in all categories increased in 2018 over 2017, this is a reflection of an expanded focus on safety auditing
as part of the initiative to reduce the number of serious incidents.

Health and Safety Audit Results

Safety pledge

Our Pledge and Rules are designed to reinforce a culture of safety throughout the organization. Our objective is for everyone to understand that safety is a personal as well as shared responsibility. The Pledge and Rules have been incorporated into our induction training and safety talks.

I pledge that I will always:

  • Be responsible for my personal safety and the safety of those around me.
  • Remember that accidents are preventable.
  • Follow Company rules, regulations, policies, and procedures.
  • Refrain from doing any task I am not adequately trained to do or feel uncomfortable in doing.
  • Practice good housekeeping.
  • Refuse to take shortcuts or be involved in any horseplay.
  • Report any accident, injury, unsafe condition or unsafe practice to my supervisor.
  • Communicate frequently with my supervisor, making sure that I understand the tasks assigned to me. If I am unsure I will ask.

Innovation

The industry is continually evolving thanks to new research and innovation, and we are always looking at new equipment and technology to evaluate how this may help improve our mine safety. Adopting mechanization, particularly in our underground mines – such as replacing hand held drills with mechanized equipment – means our workers are exposed to fewer hazards, and this helps keep our people safe. In 2018 we:

  • Installed enclosed escapeway ladderways, designed to expedite emergency exits from underground mines, at our COSE project. Going forward, we will install these ladderways at our Joaquin and Dolores mines.
  • Tested the use of an underground mobile equipment training simulator at our La Colorada mine.
  • Piloted fatigue monitoring equipment for open pit haul truck operators at our Dolores mine. 

Next Steps

  • Roll out the Pledge and Rules and implement accident reporting procedures at our newly-acquired Tahoe mines.
  • Review safety systems and operating practices at our newly-acquired Tahoe mines to identify and integrate leading practices. 
  • Train new frontline supervisors and further develop the behaviour-based safety pilot program.

Crisis Management at Pan American Silver

Emergency Preparedness and Crisis Management

Emergency preparedness and crisis management is a component of sustainability management. We are not only responsible for the health and safety of our own workforce, but also for managing any potential impacts on local communities and the environment from incidents outside normal operations, such as fires, spills, and infrastructure failure. Proper emergency preparedness requires both an effective response to an incident and informed and prepared communities and local government agencies.

Crisis Management at Pan American Silver

In 2018, we updated our corporate crisis management plan to further align with the TSM Crisis and Communications Planning Protocol. All our sites have emergency response plans, which are linked to the corporate-level plan. Where relevant, our site teams work with local emergency services on training and coordination with nearby mining operations. In 2018, site-level teams ran simulations of their emergency response plans.

We are working to build processes and procedures that improve communication and support between senior management and mining operations, thereby providing more effective management of incidents. Our new Corporate Director of Security and Crisis Management will lead the integration of the newly-acquired Tahoe operations into our Crisis Management framework and coordination of the Corporate Crisis Management Team.