OceanaGold has raised the bar to further-protect the long-term health and wellbeing of its employees.
OceanaGold has strengthened its focus on occupational health monitoring, which involves routinely monitoring and managing employees’ potential exposure to harmful workplace environments, including airborne and biological contaminants generated by mining practices – such as inhalable dust, respirable silica and diesel particulate matter as well as physical mining conditions such as noise and vibration.
The monitoring program is part of a three-year Occupational Hygiene Management Plan, developed in 2020, after a review and update of the company’s Occupational Exposure Management Guideline.
Following best practice global guidelines, each operation conducted a risk review of occupational hygiene exposure using an independent Certified Occupational Hygienist. The review identified the opportunities to make the data collection and management process more robust by collecting additional data and changing the frequency of monitoring at each site.
Head of Health, Safety & Environment, Greg Scanlan, said the occupational hygiene exposure review highlighted opportunities to engage additional resources and to apply a common framework and Standard across its global operations.
“Ensuring all staff – no matter their location – have access to the same understanding of exposure risks and the same level of controls to protect their long-term health is our goal,” Greg said.
“We have employed dedicated Occupational Hygiene Technicians across our operations in New Zealand and the United States, allowing each operation to better-monitor and understand potential health risks,” he said.
The monitoring program involves looking at biological stressors (bacteria, virus, fungi, and mould, and blood-borne pathogens), chemical stressors (acids, bases, heavy metals, solvents, particulates, vapours, fumes), and physical stressors (noise, heat, cold, vibration).
Through targeted and statistically valid workplace exposure monitoring and the implementation of high order controls (longer-term solutions), the company can more effectively manage exposures to our workforce and remove potential affects to their long-term health.
“In the past, we have undertaken extensive sampling, but now we have a more comprehensive set of baseline data to help understand the exposure profiles of workers at each operation,” Greg said.
“By always improving the way we monitor employee health, we are not only ensuring we meet regulatory obligations, we are investing in the long-term health and wellbeing of our employees,” he said.