More than 500 workers were sent home from Xstrata Nickel‘s Fraser and Nickel Rim South underground mines earlier this week as their employer declared a short “safety pause”. The decision was made after an increasing number of minor incidents in the two mines, according to the Northern Life newspaper of Sudbury, ON. There is no word on how long it will take Xstrata to revamp its safety plans, but the employees will be paid during that time.
Readers may ask how safety got so far off track as to force a company to send the workforce home with pay. That’s a good question, and one for which there may never be a satisfactory answer. We hope, however, that Xstrata can identify the cause of the problem and ensure it cannot happen again.
More than that, we hope the company will share with the rest of the industry what its investigation uncovers as to the cause of the problem. We are an industry that cannot afford to take safety lightly. Because our workplaces can be dangerous, miners must take extraordinary measures to mitigate the risk, whether that entails identifying hazards, training and retraining the workforce or rewarding employees for working safely.
With safety – such a critical part of our jobs – we must share everything we can learn about successful best practices.