On August 19, 2016, the Utah Safety Council awarded the Robert F. Parenti Individual Achievement in Safety Award to Drew Coats, Safety Manager of Lisbon Valley Mining Co. LLC. The award is presented annually by the Utah Safety Council to recognize an individual who has made major contributions in the field of safety that have had a substantial impact on an organization or community. While Lisbon Valley Mining has a history of winning safety awards, this is the first time an individual at the organization has been recognized for successfully improving safety performance.
“I’m honored to be acknowledged by the Utah Safety Council and be the first individual to win the Robert F. Parenti Individual Achievement in Safety Award at Lisbon Valley Mining Co.," said Coats, "However, the improvements made to our safety program and most importantly our culture were a result of a team effort here at Lisbon Valley. Everyone from our mine manager, site supervisors, mine employees to our executive team played a crucial role in improving our safety record.”
While safety has always been a priority for Lisbon Valley Mines, when Drew joined the company, he noticed that many of their processes were outdated. “When I first started, there was a very clear safety culture at Lisbon Valley. If an incident ever occurred, our Chairman, George Shaw, wanted to know about it and was involved in the corrective action process. You could tell safety was a priority for the company, but we were still using paper processes and, as such, struggled with tracking and communicating in real-time compliance information across our organization.”
The problems caused by paper processes were felt when the copper market took a downturn. “Some of our Equipment Operators, for example, were working part of the month mining and at other times they would be assigned to the process plant or leach operations as manpower dictated. With all of our employees moving around all the time, we needed to know in real-time what our employees have been task trained on, and which hazard training they had received as it was vital to maintaining everyone’s safety. I was tasked with finding a solution that would not only solve these managing issues but also empower our onsite workers to take an active role in the safety program.”
After evaluating several options, Drew decided to partner with an EHS Solution provider as he recognized that it wouldn’t just help streamline Lisbon Valley’s processes, it would also be very easy for the rest of his team to adopt and use. Drew recognized that the system would encourage his colleagues to actively participate in their safety program. Within four weeks of purchase, the system was rolled out to the entire team, and it only took two 3-hour sessions to train all the users on the system.
“After we switched to the new system, our site supervisors spend much more time in the field, as they no longer have to be in the office to complete their safety compliance items—they do it on their smartphones or tablets in the field. Now they spend much more time with their crew bases, focusing on safety in the field opposed to paperwork in the office.”
Since the adoption, Lisbon Valley has reduced reportable incidents by 83.3% and achieved 100% compliance with safety meetings, workplace inspections, and safety checks for all electrical and firefighting equipment. Lisbon Valley Mining Co. has also hit 498 days without a lost time incident. These are incredible results, and while Drew attributes his winning the award in part to the improvements in Lisbon Valley’s safety record, he thinks there’s more to the story.
“A big part of earning this award is making a contribution to the community. In April, I, along with Mike Hamilton from eCompliance, gave a presentation at the Mining and Manufacturing Safety Conference in Salt Lake City. We highlighted how ‘abandoning the status quo’ and ‘embracing technology’ allowed us to have real-time visibility into safety performance while establishing a means of two-way communication across our organization. Every safety department is going to need this sort of technology, and I think showcasing our success and encouraging others to do so was a big part of why I was chosen for the award. We weren’t keeping this to ourselves. We want to help other safety professionals keep all workers across the state safe.”
Congratulations to such dedicated, forward-thinking safety leaders: Drew and his team at Lisbon Valley Mining Co. You are this month’s Safeopedia Safety Superhero. Keep up the great work!
To learn more about how Lisbon Valley Mining improved safety performance, check out the full case study.