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Kudos for caution at Voisey’s Bay

June 6, 2018

Gord Winkel, chair of the John T. Ryan Safety Committee for CIM., gives the thumbs up as Vale and Mosaic Potash are recognized for outstanding safety records in Vancouver in May. Beside Gord are Vale’s Peter Langlois and Matt Stewart, and the Mosaic team. Photo: Vale archive

Winning an award four years in a row might make some people take their talents for granted or get a swollen head. But not Matt Hynes.

While Matt, superintendent, Health, Safety and Environment, is proud that our Labrador Operations won the John T. Ryan award again this year for having the lowest recordable injury frequency, he insists Labrador Operations safety record will never be “good enough,” even with four years of being LTI free at Voisey’s Bay.

We simply couldn’t achieve these awards for four years in a row without the commitment of our leaders, a strong sense of community and safety culture and, above all, our people – they are our true success.

“The past has shown our ability to achieve the highest results, but past results afford no actual protection in the present or future,” explained Matt, who has worked at Vale for seven years and whose home is in Deer Lake, NL. “There is always room for improvement and this fact is not lost on our Leadership Team. There is no finish line in safety – hazards and risk surround us in everything we do, but through diligence and commitment we will continue striving for zero harm, never accepting our current position as good enough.”

The award was presented to Vale’s Peter Langlois, general manager and director of Labrador Operations, and project geologist Matt Stewart, on May 7 at the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum’s annual conference in Vancouver. We tied with Mosaic Potash Esterhazy Ltd., with zero lost time injuries and zero modified work injuries.

Peter Langlois, who is holdind the plaque in the middle, is bookended by Gord Winkel, chair of the John T. Ryan Safety award committed (left) and CIM past president Ken Thomas (right). Photo: Vale Archive

“The award itself is based on injury frequency statistics,” Matt said. “Making these stats a reality, however, is the real story and it is a product of effective systems and a commitment to health and safety from all levels of our operation and Vale as a whole. We simply couldn’t achieve these awards for four years in a row without the commitment of our leaders, a strong sense of community and safety culture and, above all, our people – they are our true success.”

The award was lauded by Conor Spollen, director, technology and development, who called it “a proud moment for all the team at Voisey’s Bay Mine,” and by Base Metals executive director Eduardo Bartolomeo, who said it was “a great achievement for our team!!”

Ever careful, Matt maintains that our Labrador Operations are just a “slip, trip and fall” away from an injury that would affect their safety stats and that he’s constantly planning for a safe future.

“Safety culture is very difficult to maintain because you can get complacent quickly,” he said. “You’ve always got to be thinking and be aware to keep the momentum alive and keep people at their best.”

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