Cloud Peak: Reaching New Health and Safety Milestones

2016 was a great year for Cloud Peak Energy’s safety record. As of the end of November, there were only two recordable or reportable injuries company wide—down 83 percent when compared to 2015. The dedication put forth by every employee has been incredible.

“At the beginning of the May we were at zero injuries; I believe that was the longest we’d gone without a safety incident in upwards of 20 years,” said Colin Marshall, president and CEO, at the annual meeting in May. Employees are widely familiar with the quote that is so often mentioned by leadership within the organization, “no one should ever be hurt mining coal.” This year is more demonstrative of that than ever.

By December, the Corporate Office groups combined for more than one million man-hours and three years since the last recordable or reportable injury. It signifies a great accomplishment that everyone involved should be very proud of and speaks to the overall commitment to Health and Safety at Cloud Peak Energy. On May 26, Antelope Mine also reached one million man-hours without a recordable or reportable incident.

The site safety managers give much credit to the strong Take 5 program. “Throughout the business, we have been working to reinvigorate our Take 5 risk assessment process,” said Jay Hasquet, site health and safety manager at Antelope Mine. “Our folks continue to demonstrate the ability to understand and recognize the hazards that they can and do encounter on the job. They have proven that taking the time needed to correct those hazards are just as important as identifying them.”

The Take 5 motto has been a core value for health and safety for several years, and even more so now. You can find the logo all over the sites and town offices, as well as hear constant reminders of the message from supervisors and employees. “I believe that Antelope Mine, along with the other Cloud Peak Energy operations, have been able to obtain our recent safety milestones by simply focusing on one shift, one job and one task at a time.”

Christine Rhoades, site health and safety manager at Cordero Rojo Mine, emphasized the importance of this approach. “Our motto at Cordero is to ‘Take 5 for Safety.’ We do this not only to eliminate possible hazards before we begin a job, but also to seek out improvements in processes and procedures.” Rhoades referred to one specific experience where the program made a big difference. “One of the most recent examples to demonstrate this occurred during a plant outage. A team Take 5 risk assessment was done prior to beginning the job to review some of the hazards associated with the tasks. New ideas were discussed to eliminate some hazards and improve task efficiency as well. The project was completed without incident and well ahead of schedule. At Cordero, we not only Take 5 for safety, we Take 5 in search of excellence.”

At Spring Creek Mine, General Manager David Schwend hands it to all employees for contributing to the safety success: “It’s really great to see the Spring Creek Mine employees working safely and efficiently. Each and every miner here understands that no amount of dirt moved or coal shipped is worth someone getting hurt so, if something doesn’t feel right, smell right or look right, they stop the job and make it right before finishing the job. The results speak for themselves…everybody is going home to their family every day.”

When asked about the safety culture at Cordero Rojo Mine, Plant Reliability Technician Joe Waterhouse said, “It is wonderful; that’s why I work here. Cloud Peak Energy has the best safety in the PRB because we help each other to be safe and go home to our families.”

Safety Assistant Kenny Romero attributes the safety success to communication and teamwork. Kenny described his coworkers as family, saying “We look out for each other.”

In a recent safety interaction with 32-year employee Don Bernard, he explained, “Safety milestones don’t happen by accident. There is a reason we have gone 243 days since we had our last reportable.”

Cloud Peak Energy is proud of its employees and looks forward to many more days without incidents.