Safety is a constant concern in an industry where dump trucks the size of a two-story house rumble over rough terrain among men and women committed to operating heavy machinery.
That image adds perspective to just how impressive is the safety record – “no lost time” injuries for five years and counting – recently achieved by employees at the Wyodak Mine, a Black Hills Corp. subsidiary.
The 70 men and women working at the open pit mine near Gillette reached that noteworthy milestone on Tuesday, Aug. 26.
“We take great pride in our safety record and consider zero incidents the only acceptable result of our efforts to create an atmosphere where safety isn’t a statistic, but a way of life,” said Mark Lux, vice president and general manager of Power Delivery for Black Hills Corp.
Lux credited the mine’s safety record to a grass-roots effort among employees who look out for one another, hold each other accountable for working safely, and exemplify safety-based attitudes and behaviors.
A vigorous focus on safety that includes heightened accountability, constant reminders, extensive training and a team approach have yielded positive results throughout the corporation of 2,000-plus employees.
“We listen to our employees and take the appropriate actions when they voice safety concerns and share ideas for ways to work more safely,” Lux said. “We emphasize the importance of leading by example.”
Aspects of Wyodak Mine’s safety program include observation by trained safety professionals, work-area audits, “near miss” reporting, and hiring personnel who already share the dedication to safety held by current employees.
Wyodak Mine employees have earned a number of distinguished safety awards:
- The Wyoming State Mine Inspector recognized Wyodak Mine employees for no lost-time accidents in 2010 – 2013
- The Mine Safety and Health Administration awarded Wyodak with a Certificate of Achievement in Safety for no lost workdays in 2013
- Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead’s Small Mine Safety Award was presented to Wyodak Mine employees this summer at the Wyoming Workforce Safety Summit
- The National Mining Association and the Mine Safety and Health Administration have presented their Sentinels of Safety Award three times to the Wyodak Mine employees.