Nevada Gold Mines Cortez Underground was recently recognized as the recipient of the National Mining Association’s 2019 Sentinels of Safety Award. The award recognizes the mine’s safety performance in the “large underground metal” category.
Established in 1925 by then Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover, the award recognizes the mines in the United States that record the most hours in a calendar year without a single lost-time injury.
“There is a very large sense of pride, I know that I am very proud of being able to achieve this milestone,” Henri Gonin, Cortez general manager, said. “It is an achievement going a full year without a reportable accident of any kind. In fact we are way beyond a year.”
Gonin said that while the Sentinels of Safety Award recognizes safety measured in a calendar year, Cortez Underground is actually approaching 900 days without a lost-time accident.
Cortez Underground Operations Manager Dan Worthy said he believes that record stems from a safety-oriented culture at the mine.
“It is not a single silver bullet or a single activity,” Worthy said. “It is expectations that are put up and not just from Henri and myself, it is expectations that we establish throughout the entire workforce.”
“We are accountable and we hold each other to account,” he added. “We do the right thing to ensure we go home safe and each other goes home safe.”
Gonin and Worthy agree that there is no list of actions or steps that can be pointed to that explain why Cortez Underground has been so successful in avoiding lost-time accidents, but is rather rooted in establishing a culture of not accepting sub-standards and accidents from within, rather than from the top down.
Worthy said it is important to keep a continuous eye on safety and not become complacent.
“It is like riding a bicycle up hill, you stop peddling you go backwards,” he said.
According to the Nevada Mining Association, the Sentinels of Safety Award “remain the nation’s most prestigious awards recognizing mining safety.” A mine must record at least 4,000 injury-free hours to qualify.
Cortez Underground is a part of NGM’s Cortez Complex, which features both underground and open-pit mining operations.
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