Our People

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, handling explosives and chemicals, working with high voltage electricity, 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.

2019 Goals Operation and Safety

2019 Goals Operations and Safety2019 Results2019 Performance2020 Goals
Achieve zero fatalitiesDespite meaningful efforts to enhance safety programs throughout the organization, we regrettably incurred two fatalities at our mines.Achieve zero fatalities
Achieve a lost time injury frequency (LTIF) of 1.5 or lessLTIF rate 1.04Maintain LTIF of 1.1 or better
Achieve a lost time injury severity (LTIS) of 600 or lessLTIS rate 481Maintain LTIS of 565 or better

Our Approach

Safety is always our priority, with safe, efficient production being the primary goal at all operations and projects. We are continually striving to prevent workplace injuries through improved training, processes, technology, and innovation. 

Policy

  • Health and Safety Policy

Programs and initiative

  • 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 are incorporated into induction training and safety talks.
  • 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 systems and processes.
  • Health and safety supervisor training program – Provides leadership and technical training for front-line supervisors.

Monitoring and evaluation

  • TSM Health and Safety Protocol – All sites conduct annual TSM self-assessments and develop action plans to continually improve performance.
  • 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

  • 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 Senior Vice President, Technical Services & Process Optimization oversees safety in the organization.
  • 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

Safety Performance

We continuously work to reduce serious injuries and improve our safety performance. We are proud of the safety achievement at our La Colorada mine, where over 2.2 million hours have been worked without a lost time injury. We also congratulate the employees and contractors at our Dolores mine as their excellent safety performance during 2019 resulted in Dolores being selected as the recipient for Pan American Silver’s Chairman’s Safety Award.

Through the acquisition of Tahoe Resources in 2019, we added four new operations to our Company and nearly doubled our workforce increasing our total numbers of hours worked by over 60% when compared to the previous year. During the year, we focused on integrating these operations into Pan American Silver’s safety and reporting systems. Despite the increase in exposure hours, we had a comparatively low 20 percent increase in lost time injuries, which rose from 25 in 2018 to 30 in 2019. We improved both our lost time injury frequency (LTIF) and lost time injury severity (LTIS) rates over the previous year and met both our LTIF and LTIS goals.

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 also been identified as a key contributing factor to safety incidents.

Notes:
(1) Safety data 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.

Zero fatal incidents is Pan American Silver’s long-standing goal, and in 2019 we were very saddened by fatalities at our COSE project in Argentina and our Morococha mine in Peru. The accident at COSE resulted from a ground fall in a heading that had been supported.  Operations were suspended while the accident was investigated. The ground support plan at COSE and Joaquin was thoroughly reviewed, and ground support standards were enhanced to require a higher standard of support. The cause of the accident at Morococha has yet to be conclusively determined; however, additional control measures are being implemented throughout the Company to improve relevant safety controls.

Serious incident reduction initiative

The mining industry has significantly reduced its overall injury rates, but when injuries do occur, they tend to be serious. Unpredictable events and human error are often at the root of serious incidents. Creating a safety culture that supports workers in consistently making safe choices is one of the ways we are working to prevent these incidents and improve our safety performance.

In 2018, we launched the pilot of behaviour-based safety program, @ctua PAS, at Huaron and Morococha in Peru. The objective of this program is to reduce the number of safety incidents caused by human error. The program focuses on empowering workers to take a more active role in their own safety as well as building a culture that encourages and supports workers in consistently making safe choices.

Another component of this program is engaging and educating workers’ families on the importance of safety, both in the workplace and at home. Families play an important role in reinforcing messaging around safety and in providing additional motivation for a worker to take time for safety and to follow standard operating procedures. Since the start of the program, we have held several safety-related workshops and events workshops for workers and families of Huaron and Morococha. We will expand this program to more of our mines in 2020.

Safety training

We provide our workforce with the skills and training necessary to perform their jobs safely. As part of our Serious Incident Reduction Initiative, we also train front-line supervisory workers on the technical and leadership skills relevant to building a safety-focused culture. In 2019, our operations completed over one million hours of training.

Workforce(1) Safety Training

Type of trainingHours
General Safety563,882
Mining Induction208,531
Geotechnical11,993
Formal Safety Meetings246,900
Mine Rescue33.783
Total1,065,088

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

Health and Safety Audits

In 2019, all sites conducted self-assessments against the TSM Health and Safety Protocol. Sites, other than Manantial Espejo in Argentina and Morococha (where fatalities occurred), were close to meeting the TSM Level A target criteria. Sites also developed action plans to reach Level A and continually improve their TSM scores.

Safety Audit Results

HEALTH AND SAFETY AUDIT RESULTS

In 2019, health and safety audits were conducted at Huaron, Manantial Espejo, Morococha, San Vicente, La Arena, Shahuindo, La Colorada and Dolores operations. For all but two of the mines previously audited, the number of non-compliance findings increased from 2018 due to our increasingly stringent audit process. By the end of the year, sites had remediated nearly 98 percent of the audit findings.

Technology and innovation

We commonly pilot and adopt new equipment and technologies to make our work safer and our processes more efficient. Specific examples of these technologies include:

  • Fatigue monitoring equipment for open pit haul truck operators at Dolores – This system consists of several optical monitoring sensors inside the cabin of the haul truck and a vibrating system in the seat. Monitors measure the time it takes for the operator to blink. Physical signs of fatigue cause the seat to vibrate, which alerts the operator.
  • Wireless networks at our underground mines – These networks improve communication with and real time location monitoring of personnel and key equipment. Knowing the location of our people at all times is critical in the event of an emergency and creates efficiencies by allowing us to send personnel and equipment where they are needed on a timely basis. Further efficiencies may be gained in the future by remotely controlling ventilation fans, pumps and mobile mining equipment.
  • Drones – We tested the use of drones in our underground mines to survey open stopes. We will be expanding their use to survey cavities and scan excavations.
  • Wearable technology – We are testing wearable technology to monitor the quantity and quality of sleep that operators get in our camps.
  • Automated surveying technology – This technology remotely monitors the geotechnical stability of slopes in our open pit mines and could be used to prevent workers from entering potentially unsafe areas.

next steps

  • Implement continuous improvement to our safety systems and processes
  • Roll out the behaviour-based safety program at our mines in Mexico, Bolivia, and Guatemala

Overview

Material Topic: Health and safety.

Definition: Protecting the health, safety and well-being of our employees, contractors.

Feedback from COIs: Our workers want safe working conditions and additional safety training.

How we’re responding: We prioritize the safety of our workforce every day.

We trained our workforce with 1,065,088 hours of safety training.

We are continuing the pilot of our 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

GRI Indicators

403-2 Types of injury and rates of injury, occupational diseases, lost days, and absenteeism, and number of work-related fatalities.

404-1 Average hours of training per year per employee.

SAFETY PLEDGE

Our Pan American Silver Safety Pledge and Cardinal 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.

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.