Cementation Canada is the gold winner in the mining and natural resources category for the 2014 Canada's Safest Employers Awards
As an underground mining contracting company, North Bay, Ont.-based Cementation Canada has a commitment to build mines safely. The biggest challenge, according to Denis Beaudoin, corporate director, health and safety, is to maintain a safety culture with a transient workforce on varied projects in Canada and around the world. To that end, the company has developed a generic safety management system that can be customized to countries and projects.
“Based on our experience in Canada over four decades, this system allows everyone on a project to provide input and decide on the right process for them,” says Beaudoin. “We do not throw this at them, rather project managers review the generic system with crews, come up with a plan that is specific to their project and agree on it.”
WATCH THE EXCLUSIVE VIDEO HERE
This agreement is formalized by sign-offs from everyone on the site and promotes immediate buy-in to the system.
Behind the success of the system and culture is a consistent application of safety processes and procedures. The company’s 1,200 employees engage in safety huddles, job hazard analyses for less frequent jobs, weekly safety operations reviews and a stop-and-correct process — taking the time to correct a problem as soon as something is identified.
“We address every incident, no matter how slight, so workers can see that we mean what we say,” adds Beaudoin.
The company also conducts thorough orientations. All newly hired and transferred employees must review the corporate safety culture presentation with the most senior management person on that project or in the company’s head office. And once a year, Cementation senior leaders hit the road and travel to all of its Canadian projects to present an annual safety re-orientation for all employees.
Miner Adam Logan was initially nervous about going underground but in his half-dozen years of working for Cementation, he is reassured by the knowledge that the company takes safety seriously.
“They give you the power to stop and correct, and I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve felt forced to do something unsafe.”
According to Beaudoin, keeping safety top of mind plays an important role in accident reduction, as does a stable workforce.
“Many contract employees stay with Cementation for a long time, going from one project to another,” he says. “That helps to solidify the safety culture because you are not constantly reintroducing it to new employees who may need to adapt to a cultural shift.”
He points out that building a mine takes years and often comes after lengthy engineering feasibility studies. While the work is not steady, many workers will return to Cementation when opportunities arise — even after moving to another company — because they believe in its safety culture. And that’s just good business.