If you’ve spent time at a mine or know a miner, you have certainly heard the phrase, “safety first.” It might sound simple, but for Nevada miners, and specifically for the Nevada Mining Association’s Safety Award winners, safety is consistently the No. 1 priority each and every day.

NvMA member companies have long integrated stringent protective practices into their safety management programs and invested in ongoing, in depth safety equipment, training and drills. However, each NvMA Safety Award winner has proven his or her own outstanding commitment to protecting the safety of their fellow miners and overall community. Following are brief introductions to a few of this year’s impressive award winners, who are among the honorees to be recognized at the association’s annual convention Sept. 9:

Jason Krotts, Cortez Mine

2017 Safety Award winner Jason Krotts spent nearly 20 years as a professional firefighter before beginning work at Barrick Nevada’s Cortez Mine.

Krotts, a member of the underground mine rescue team and the mine safety committee, applies discipline, creativity and a long history of safety training to the mine site every workday.

With a keen eye for safety, he spurred the creation of the Cortez Mine’s prefire plans for mine structures. These plans serve as blueprints to identify hazards, utility shut-off locations, occupancy areas, and other potential issues for firefighters and rescue crews.

Thanks to Krotts, the Cortez Mine is drafting these plans to be at the ready for mine rescue personnel.

Tammy Elkins, Round Mountain Mine

Tammy Elkins has worked in the ore process department at Kinross Gold Corp.’s Round Mountain Mine for 30 years and has never had a lost time incident or other injury. In her position, she supervises many of the new miners on the site with less than one year of experience. Even with a “fresh” crew, she has managed to reinforce safety culture, and her team has gone more than two years without a single reportable incident.

Elkins uses daily safety meetings and lineouts to encourage employees to share their safety experiences with one another. Participation from her whole team is mandatory. These meetings are also attended by outsiders from other departments.

She has good reason to focus on safety: The “pad crew” at Round Mountain had no lost-time incidents for more than 11 years, from 2001 to 2012. She knows firsthand that zero injury is possible and has had it in her sights before.

Clemente Gomez, Hollister Mine

Clemente Gomez’s official job title is mine electrician at the Klondex Mining Ltd. Hollister mine, but he serves in a variety of other vital capacities, including mine rescue trainer, mine rescue team member, relief rescue team lead, and mineARC refuge chamber certified inspector.

Gomez helps maintain and operate the Hollister mine’s emergency escape hoist. He also regularly trains new employees on the hoist’s location and operation.

Gomez also demonstrates his commitment to safety by donating countless hours of personal time to training future miners for mine rescue competitions. He and the Klondex mine rescue team coordinator were instrumental in assisting the Idaho School of Mines Rescue Team with training, equipment and mentoring during the recent Nevada Regional Mine Rescue Contest.

Pamela Ward, Twin Creeks Mine

Pamela Ward is a geotechnician assigned to the geology department at Newmont Mining Corp.’s Twin Creeks Mine.

One of the best examples of Ward’s unwavering commitment to a safe workplace is her contribution to the more than 3,000 days of “zero harm” recorded by the Geology/Drill Services/Drilling Contractor group.

Ward also serves as secretary of a Vital Behaviors Team, working to advance Newmont’s zero harm safety culture. She plays a critical role on the team, which is responsible for many safety initiatives.

To encourage drilling contractors to submit safety ideas and concerns, Ward established a safety suggestion box at the Twin Creeks mine core shed.

Her commitment to personal safety is regularly proved through her actions. She recently delivered safety gloves to all contractor drilling crews, along with a discussion on staying focused and using proper tools on the job.

It would be impossible to tell the story of our hundreds of safety award nominees in just one column. Suffice it to say that each of these award winners, along with the 69 other 2017 recipients, are leaders pushing the industry to zero harm. This important motto serves as an important reminder that any injury on the mine site, no matter how small, is unacceptable, and that every miner at every level of the operation must do his or her part to work safely each and every day.

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