A mining site can be a productive and healthy work environment, with workers who are enthusiastic about coming to their jobs every morning. But that relies on good leadership. If superintendents and shift bosses are not entirely committed to keeping their workers safe and happy, morale can slip and the likelihood of accidents can skyrocket.
On the latest episode of the Full Production podcast, mining veteran John Claus stopped by to chat about his lengthy journey through the mining industry and give some of his top tips for ensuring his top priority at a site: safety.
Make It Enjoyable To Come To Work
An unfortunate downside of the mining industry is high worker turnover. The work is difficult and tiring, and plenty of people find themselves looking to quit after only a few months at a site. But John says any supervisor or leader can prevent that by making sure worker happiness is a top priority. While worksite banter is inevitable, you should be ensuring that workers aren’t feeling uncomfortable or unfairly derided by coworkers or managers. If you look after your people, they’re going to stay and become loyal and hardworking staff.
As a mining site supervisor, it’s crucial that you’re always on your toes and thinking about the next shift and the next day. Before going into a site, check the work areas you and your staff are going into. You need to make sure the site is set up safe and has all the necessary tools and equipment. You want your workers to be prepared, not feel like they’re improvising. Then, during the second half of your shift, you should be planning for your cross shift and your shift the next day. In John’s opinion, too many supervisors these days aren’t looking far enough ahead to anticipate any problems they may have.
Balance Your Relationship With Your Workers
Workers can be your best mate, but they can only enjoy that level of camaraderie if they are adequately performing their duties at work. If they’re not doing their very best at work, John says, they simply don’t respect you. This is a difficult but important tenet of being a mining supervisor: you need to be hard, but fair. You need to know when to draw the line with people and let them know that they’re not working to your standards, but it’s also important to have an open door so that people feel comfortable talking to you. Your workers can’t feel resentful on the job. This can just lead to them being angry and potentially getting hurt.
Being a mining supervisor can be an incredibly rewarding experience. You have the opportunity to lead people and see them grow and develop throughout their careers. But if done poorly, accidents can happen and people can get hurt. Foster an environment of respect and, above all, ensure that your workers are safe.
Listen to my entire conversation with John here.