Engineering & Mining Journal

AUG 2017

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SAFETY AND TRAINING AUGUST 2017 • E&MJ 49 shaft sinking and raise boring to mine de- velopment and operation. The agreement between Focus FS and DMC is the second step of a two-phase relationship between the companies and will include the rollout of Focus FS sys- tems across DMC to enhance leading indicator and predictive analytics, along with risk management, and to provide digital H&S management systems that span the organization from corporate level down to each individual operating site. Brown said ShiftProcess evolved from initial efforts to develop a program for col- lecting and reporting safety-related data from operations in eastern Canada's grow- ing offshore oil and gas industry, which shares many of the same site characteris- tics found in mining, such as remote loca- tions, harsh environments and minimal in- frastructure, and thus drew the attention of mining companies as well. Prior to the start of Focus FS's relationship with DMC, Brown said, the mining contractor had assessed a number of software packages designed for safety programs and found them lacking, as they seemed to be designed mainly for fill- ing out forms to assure compliance. DMC wanted to build a safety culture that would be supported by information systems, not vice versa. With ShiftProcess, said Brown, they found an off-the-shelf software solu- tion offering the capability to custom-con- figure a system that could meet their imme- diate and long-term safety goals. "ShiftProcess can be configured to col- lect data from specific workflows at specific sites. It doesn't force users to do things in a certain way that doesn't meet their needs, but does allow easy standardization across sites, so new operations can be up and run- ning, safety-wise, from day one," explained Brown. "We also designed it with typical mining sites in mind, where training can be difficult to schedule, particularly with op- erations at which employees are on site for a certain number of weeks and then home for a few weeks. Data collection is straight- forward and users have access to 'cheat sheets' that quickly provide guidance." The Focus FS/DMC joint effort is in line with the overall trend in the industry as it moves from 1990s paper-based reporting and compliance systems to electronic sys- tems employing tablet-based data collec- tion and cloud technologies. EH&S manag- ers at several mining companies told E&MJ that the immediacy of response provided by electronic systems removes the basic flaw of paper-based systems: workers get quick responses to their safety concerns instead of long delays; and managers spend less time behind a desk, shuffling through pa- perwork. Electronic systems' capability for providing immediate feedback helps com- panies such as DMC that are working to forge a less management-focused environ- ment, in favor of a safety culture based on employee engagement and accountability. This approach is gaining popularity, particularly among companies that have committed considerable time and money to safety improvement but haven't seen results in proportion to the size of their investment. During an interview with CBC News during the Ontario Mining Health and Safety conference held in Sudbury in April, Alistair Ross, director of mining operations for Vale Canada, said the concept of "zero harm" adopted by most mining companies may be achievable at any given moment — but the key is "how long can you make that moment last. We've found that zero harm in work environments governed solely by management systems is not achievable. Bringing in a new style of leadership makes the potential for zero harm much greater. "We need to start looking at the avail- ability of each individual to become a lead- er and contribute to the goal of zero harm," he said, noting that it takes a concerted effort from all parties — corporate and middle management, unions and individ- uals — to recognize the opportunity and demand workers step up and take respon- sibility for safety concerns and policies. "If I go to work and simply 'hope' to be safe, that's insufficient," said Ross. "We all need to 'work' to be safe. If we can get better at understanding what it takes to lead and follow this model, we can gener- ate longer periods of zero harm." Wearable Safety The trend toward greater worker involve- ment in safety and health has brought with it a growing interest in wearable safe- ty tech. Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags are increasingly being used in both personnel and asset tracking and safety applications in mining. Mojix, a California-based RFID solutions develop- er, pointed out that these tiny devices can contribute to safety, security and efficiency on many levels, with carefully placed RFID readers able to track the movement of all workers tagged with inexpensive, durable, lightweight tags. The RFID system can be linked with air quality sensors and blast- ing schedules, meaning any worker in the wrong place can be identified, contacted and removed from danger. Safety equip- ment can also be tagged, so in the event of an accident, miners can be directed to life-saving gas masks, refuge chambers and the best location for escape or rescue. However, with the recent announce- ment that a Midwestern U.S. technology company had offered to fit its employees with biochip hand implants to make it easier to pay for lunch, access equipment and move around controlled facilities, the trend toward wearables in the workplace has entered a new era. Although nothing like that has been reported in the mining industry, advances in wearable technology are making these devices smart enough to The Main Management Dashboard of ShiftProcess displays performance as it relates to compliance across the mine site and the organization. Total Performance measures all work performed against a set of targets (may exceed 100%), minimum performance reports against the minimum compliance target (would not exceed 100%). Dashboards are specific to the user and their role.

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