Protecting our Employees

Safeguard icon

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 Policy
At 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.

Local Workforce

Hecla is often the largest private employer and taxpayer in the communities in which we operate. Local hiring and procurement are a top priority. In 2020, Hecla employed 1,621 direct employees and 636 contractors. Furthermore, Hecla management is dedicated to continuously investing in the technology, training, systems, and programs that help protect and support our people. This active, on-going commitment to talent management is essential to not only company performance, but also our social license to operate.

Diversity & Inclusion
We strive for our workforce to reflect the demographics near our mine sites. Our Greens Creek Mine in Alaska is a bit of an outlier because we cannot fill all the roles through the Alaskan population. While we target Alaska residents, we also post job openings in the lower 48 U.S. states with the primary goal of attracting employees who are dedicated to our values of excellence and safety.

Hiring from the First Nation Community
The number of First Nations hired from the Abitibiwinni (Pikogan) community by Hecla Quebec has more than quadrupled since 2018, from six to an average of 25 who worked at Casa Berardi operations each month in 2020.

Employee Wellness

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.

Health & Safety Training

Hecla considers workforce training to be an important part of the educational continnum. Our employees and contractors worked more than 4.4 million man-hours and received more than 42,243 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.

Read stories about how we take safety home.

Health & Safety

The focus on safety and behavior have steadily improved our safety records every year over the past eight years. In 2012, we instituted our Hecla Safety & Health Management System. Since then:

  • We became the first U.S. and internationally certified sites under the National Mining Association’s CORESafety program.
  • We have had zero mine employee fatalities and one contractor fatality.
  • We have steadily reduced our AIFR year over year by 80% to our lowest safety rating in Company history.

Learn more about Hecla’s focus on safety.

Technology Impact

Employee at surface operating LHD.

Load, Haul, and Dump (LHD) loader underground.

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.

Learn more about our culture of innovation.

Safety Awards

Our Casa Berardi Mine in was recently recognized as the safest mine for the year 2020 in the Quebec/Maritimes Regional-Metal Mines category. The Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) presented the prestigious John T. Ryan Award to Casa Berardi for having the lowest accident rate in 2020 over a period of 200,000 hours worked. This award further demonstrates Hecla’s overall culture of safety throughout our operations. Learn more about the Québec Mining Association.