Every spring, AME BC offers two workshops in workplace safety: “Exploration Safety for Management” and “Introduction to Exploration Safety.” Each workshop lasts one day, with a break for lunch and networking. There are no prerequisites and no exams, and graduates receive a certificate after completing each course.
The management workshop is for senior management and project managers. The agenda for the 2015 workshop included the following topics: risk management; sustainable safety culture; liability and regulations; emergency response plans; hazard assessment, mitigation and prevention strategies; helicopter and drill safety, and contractor management considerations; fatigue management; and root-cause analysis.
Managers have not only a moral obligation to ensure the safety of their crews, but also a legal obligation, says Matthew Pickard, vice president, environment and sustainability, of Sabina Gold & Silver Corp. and former chair of AME BC’s Environment, Health and Safety Committee. “It’s important that managers take the time to understand the risks associated with exploration activities and how to control those risks.”
The introductory course is aimed at recently graduated geoscientists, field assistants and project geologists. Course content includes interactive field-safety scenarios and strategies; the regulatory environment and what to expect from employers; recommended traversing equipment for mountain and bush environments; 4×4 and ATV driving awareness; potential bear problems and how to avoid them; and hypothermia and ice-water survival.
Mike Gunning, president and CEO of Vancouver-based Alpha Exploration Inc., has presented “Safe Approaches to Traversing in Remote Areas,” part of the introductory workshop, for several years. He says it is relevant to mineral exploration that takes place far from human settlement, transportation infrastructure and hospitals. “The talk outlines specific risks and hazards that students may encounter in the field,” he explains. “Most importantly, it outlines approaches to safety that can be applied in any remote situation, emphasizing qualitative assessment and state of mind as opposed to a set of rules and specific techniques.”
Gunning says his safety workshop presentation is interactive. “It is a template to share and learn from each other’s experiences in the field,” he says. “Discussions are more common after my talks instead of questions.”