Teck employees were greeted with a handshake and a job well done Tuesday, as company management and union representatives congratulated them on one million hours without a lost-time injury.
This is the first time the smelting giant has reached this milestone – the last time it came close was in 2008 with just over half the hours accumulated.
“This is an exciting time for all of us at (Trail Operations) because it’s the first time in our history that our employees and contractors have collectively worked one million hours without a lost-time incident,” said Richard Deane, manager of energy and public affairs.
The goal was reached Sunday and the company continues to be in the clear since the last lost-time incident on June 25.
“There’s no doubt about it – it’s a significant milestone,” agreed Gord Menelaws, health and safety chair for Local 480.
“But the way we look at it down here is that we’ll celebrate every hour we go loss-of-time free but it’s really just a step in the right direction.”
Health and safety is a team effort, he said, pointing to the joint health and safety committee that meets once a month to discuss ways of further improving standards.
Menelaws believes former General Manager Mike Martin really paved the way for his successor Greg Belland, who continues to hold the same strong focus.
“We’ve come along way from the ‘70s – we (Teck) killed three people in the ‘70s in a matter of a few months and knock on wood we haven’t had anything that serious since then,” said Menelaws.
“I think right then the attitude changed, it was that point in time where we actually had a wildcat strike and the guys at work said we’re not coming back until you do something about health and safety.”
The tragedies set improvements in motion, with the hire of two coordinator positions to focus specifically on health and safety.
Nowadays, Teck’s 1,500 employees and its contractors are put through a “courageous safety leadership” program that pushes employees to not only take responsibility for their own safety but others around them.
The company’s increased focus is evident when it comes to task planning for on site projects, its focus on risk assessment when an incident does occur and mitigation to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
“A key factor is we’ve put a real focus in recent years into improving our safety performance and we’ve seen a great improvement in terms of lost-time incidents as a result,” said Deane. “For us, it’s significant progress toward our objective of everyone going home safe and healthy everyday.”