Modern Mining October 2021
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Managing health and safety in remote mining locations
The biggest challenge facing mines operating in remote locations – in terms of health and safety – is their remoteness. Mastering health and safety in remote locations, reasons Kevin Thompson, vice president: Business Development at Remote Medical Interna- tional, requires a tailored approach based on the specific circum- stances of each mine. By Munesu Shoko .
T he importance of good health and safety management at mining operations can- not be reiterated enough. In his experience, Kevin Thompson, vice president: Business Development at Remote Medical International (RMI), has found that employee health and safety is generally one of the top priorities for every mining company. “Companies are strongly committed to continu- ally evaluating their operating practices to work towards a workplace with no injuries or illnesses. Like most industrial work, mining involves a degree of risk – and getting as close as possible to eliminat- ing that risk and protecting workers always has to be a key initiative,” says Thompson. He says the past 17 months, with the COVID‑19 pandemic, have further reinforced the fact that external factors, in addition to day-to-day opera- tions, will always be a health and safety risk requiring advanced and ongoing planning to mitigate. As he works for a medical company, Thompson tends to
think more about the “health” side of health and safety, but reiterates that the two are inextrica- bly linked. Commenting on the chal lenges faced by mining companies oper- ating in remote locations, Thompson believes the biggest chal lenge is their remoteness. “I live in a city where I have multiple hospitals within
Kevin Thompson, vice president: Business Development at Remote Medical International.
a 15-minute drive. These facilities have emergency departments, advanced diagnostic capabilities, surgical capabilities and access to practically every medical specialty you could need – and that’s just the hospitals. There are ambulances, urgent care clinics, wellness centres, physical therapists, dentists and a whole suite of other health-related services available at my fingertips,” he says. This access to care, he says, isn’t the case for mines in remote locations. In addition, the extent of “remoteness” can vary tremendously. Healthcare needs to be built into these locations, and mining companies must make the challenging decision of what type of medical services they want on-site. “Many factors will influence this decision, such as distance from definitive medical care, workforce size, community initiatives and more. Generally, though, it will just never be the same breadth of services found in non-remote locations that most of us take for granted. This, of course, leads to other challenges. For instance, what do you do if a health concern exceeds the capability of the medical care on site? Where do you take the patient? How do you get them there?” Mastering health and safety in remote locations Mastering health and safety in remote locations requires a tailored approach based on the specific
Paramedic rescue services on site.
28 MODERN MINING October 2021
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