Hecla’s greatest resource is its people; their safety and health is our top priority. Our goal is to achieve world-class safety and health performance by promoting a deeply rooted value-based culture of safety and utilizing technology and innovation to continually improve safe operations. At Hecla, we know that instilling the behavior of safety awareness is fundamental to making our workplace as safe as possible. So, we invest in our people with training and the latest technology and workforce development programs that focus on safety first.
Each property has its own challenges and solutions, but all have the same goal: to send employees and contractors home to their families safe and sound – every day.
Watch our video about Hecla’s commitment to safety.
- Safety PolicyAt Hecla, our dedication to safety and health is the basic value that underlines everything we do. We achieve success only if all of our employees, contractors, and visitors return from our properties safe and healthy. We will:
- continue to identify hazards and mitigate risks at our properties in order to achieve zero occupational injuries and illnesses
- take a proactive approach toward creating a safe work environment
- be accountable for promoting continued safety and health education and training for all employees
- create, maintain, and assign responsibility for the Safety and Health Management System
- review the Safety and Health Management System to identify potential areas of improvement
- ensure a thorough evaluation of all incidents
All employees and contractors should be familiar with and follow Hecla’s Safety and Health Policy guidelines. Adherence to safety and health practices and standards is a condition of employment and of contractor continuance. This policy and the Safety and Health Management System provide guidelines for responsibility, accountability, training, communication resources, engineering design, performance measurement, and sustainable improvement.
Our corporate business strategy, developed over our 129 years of operation, is based on taking the long view – we operate long-lived mines, which allows us to invest both in the mines and in developing deep connections and mutual benefits between our company and the communities in which we operate.
Hecla is often among the largest private-sector employers in the communities in which we operate. We provide direct and indirect jobs and an economic impact that can average over $800 million over a 5-year period in wages, benefits, payment of taxes and license fees, purchase of goods and services, and local donations and contributions. In addition, more than one indirect job is created by each Hecla job, leading to over 3,300 works in the local communities – all from our mining operations.
Hecla employs more than 1,640 people world-wide with a total compensation of more than 192 million in 2019. Nineteen percent of our salaried positions, which include our management team, is women and company-wide, women comprise 9.3 percent of our workforce.
We’re the largest private-sector employer in Juneau, Alaska. Greens Creek’s average employee’s annual total compensation of $122,800 is more than two times the average non-mining private sector salary in Juneau, Alaska’s capital.
Wages at the Lucky Friday Mine are nearly triple the average annual wage in Shoshone County, Idaho. When fully operational, the nearly $22 million payroll will support 253 direct jobs for an annual average salary of $84,000. (The local average non-Hecla salary is just over $30,000.) The mine’s aggregate payroll is more than $50.9 million for 414 direct jobs. The Lucky Friday Mine is the only Hecla facility covered by a collective bargaining agreement and represents about 17% of Hecla’s total hourly work force.
Our employees benefit from a variety of company-sponsored health and wellness programs that cover education, health interventions, and disease management. Our responsibility to ensure a safe workplace extends to providing opportunities for employee wellness.
Our employees worked more than 5.7 million man-hours in 2019 and received more than 59,000 hours of health and safety training. All employees receive training that complies with the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) regulations in the United States; Occupational Health and Safety in Mines regulations in Québec, Canada; and the Federal regulations for Occupational Health, Safety and Work Environment in Mexico. Employees also participate in ongoing training designed to develop skills in performing their assigned tasks in a safe, healthy and environmentally responsible manner.
The Hecla Take 5 Safety Focus continuous improvement initiative is designed to improve job site awareness and decrease exposures to high and critical risks at each site. Our safety and behavior focus have steadily improved our safety records every year over the past six years.
Company-wide, our All Injury Frequency Rate (AIFR) dropped 70% from 2014 to 2019. In 2019, we reduced our 2019 incident by 20% to 1.61—the lowest level in the company’s history and 33% lower than the national average.
In 2012, Hecla joined with the National Mining Association (NMA) as one of the participating companies in the new CORESafety mining program, a voluntary, scalable, mining-specific safety and health management system whose goal is to eliminate fatalities and reduce the rate of mining injuries by 50 percent nationwide over the next five years.
In 2016, the NMA recognized Hecla as the first hardrock mining company to receive an independent certification under the CORESafety system. And in 2018, the Casa Berardi Mine was the first international mine to receive certification under the CORESafety system.
Hecla is an industry leader in adopting the latest technologies to enhance the health and safety of our employees, improve environmental performance, and maximize mine-operating efficiency and productivity. Specifically, we seek to increase safety and productivity by automating certain mining tasks. This automation allows the miners to do more planning and problem solving and machines to do more of the repetitive work tasks.
- Our early testing of battery-operated load, haul, and dump (LHD) equipment provided helpful feedback on safety and health benefits coming from zero emission power, noise, and heat reduction, and more responsive machine controls. Technology advances will bring improved battery life for more effective deployment of these machines as production workhorses.
- Early adopter of the Teleremote battery-operated LHD equipment that is remotely administered and reduces energy use and heat output. This technology significantly lowered levels of noise and improved worker safety by moving employees away from the mine face. The Teleremote LHD allows one operator to run up to three machines from the same station.
- The autonomous 24-hour truck operation at our Casa Berardi Mine has increased safety, increased payloads by 8 percent, and decreased energy use by 17 percent per vehicle. The expected cost savings from just two trucks is around $3 million per year.
- At our Casa Berardi Mine, we installed timers on the mine ventilation systems and reduced electricity consumption for underground ventilation by 23 percent.
- We utilize an automated jumbo stope drill at Casa Berardi that allows drilling during shift changes and improves drill accuracy while also increasing productivity and efficiency.
- We continued to advance development of the innovative Remote Vein Miner that is slated for deployment at the Lucky Friday Mine and would incorporate the multiple steps of underground mining into a continuous operation.
Learn more about our culture of innovation.
Our Lucky Friday Mine was named a 2018 Sentinels of Safety award winner by the National Mining Association (NMA) for their stellar safety record. The Lucky Friday was recognized along with only 19 other American mining operations – six coal and 14 mineral/non-metal mines. The award, sponsored by the NMA, is presented annually to mines with the best safety records and those that have worked the most employee hours without experiencing a lost-time injury. Lucky Friday won the small underground metal mine category for achieving 114,829 injury-free hours. To receive an award, a company must have a minimum of 4,000 injury-free hours and those hours are based on data provided to the Federal Mine Safety & Health Administration.
For the second year in a row, the Lucky Friday Mine Rescue Team earned first place in the Central Mine Rescue Competition, with Greens Creek’s Mine Rescue Team taking second. In 2018, the teams placed seventh and tenth overall, respectively, at the 2018 National Metal/Non-Metal Mine Rescue Competition.
Our Casa Berardi Mine in Quebec received a Certificate of Recognition from the Commission for Health and Safety of the Work of Quebec in both 2013 and 2015.
Innovation Recognition Employees at the Casa Berardi Mine in Québec proposed innovative ideas to optimize their operations and enhance safety. As a result, Hecla Québec was awarded an Innovation prize by the CNESST, an organization that promotes and respects labor rights and obligations with respect to workers and employers in Québec.
Learn more about Hecla’s leadership on innovation.