Health & Safety

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Health & Safety

Our motto is

No job is so important we cannot take time to do it safely.

When mining at the high altitude of 4,000 metres, the major challenges are living and working with the cold climate and reduced oxygen levels. Average annual temperature is minus 8°C with a minimum as low as minus 50°C.

Our employees receive regular health checks and support, are provided with high quality safety clothing, and receive health and safety training to protect themselves and co-workers. We record and analyse incidents and near misses, and maintain an emergency response team which performs regular training exercises. Our motto is “no job is so important we cannot take time to do it safely.”

Health and safety training

All new mine employees receive first aid training, and regular refresher training. We have an Emergency and First Aid team (made up of volunteers from other full time roles). Training covers safety orientation, first aid, firefighting, emergency response, workplace hazards, materials safety, transportation of dangerous goods, defensive driving, forklift truck operation, work permits, radiation hazards, vessels under pressure, working in confined spaces, handling cyanide and other chemicals, hearing protection, ultraviolet radiation, frost bite, and hypothermia.

Medical screening and wellness

Our employees receive regular health checks, in particular with respect to ensuring they are fit to travel to, and work at, the high-altitude, reduced oxygen conditions at the mine site. In accordance with a license issued by the Ministry of Health, Kumtor maintains medical facilities and staff in Bishkek, at the Balykchy Marshalling Yard, and at the mine site, with trained staff including doctors, paramedics, nurses and first aid instructors. All new employees and contractors receive a full medical before first visiting the mine site. Employees are then checked annually thereafter, and contractors every 3-6 months. Drivers receive a blood pressure and oxygen test before each journey to/from site, and at every shift for Bishkek-based drivers. In addition, all employees and contractors receive appropriate checks and treatment in the event of any illness or symptoms of concern.

A barometric chamber is available on site to help with more gradual acclimatization if needed. We have proactive programs to protect our employees and improve their general health and wellbeing. We conduct an annual influenza immunisation program. Our monitoring shows that upper respiratory tract infections remain the principal cause of work absence. We have been running a smoking cessation program since 2002, consisting of a number of parallel initiatives including individual counselling, medication (such as nicotine patches), and limiting locations where smoking is permitted. This latter action is particularly important for reducing the risks of passive smoking. We have been conducting a nutrition-monitoring program, which includes individual counselling of employees and reviewing the nutritional balance of food, provided at the mine camp. For every meal, a wide choice of high quality, freshly prepared food is available, providing for personal and cultural preferences, and 100 percent sourced from the Kyrgyz Republic.

Emergency prevention and response

We maintain a 24-hour emergency response team with a medical doctor, ambulance, and extensive emergency response equipment at the mine site. We review and update our emergency response plans annually, provide training, and conduct periodic drills. Mock training exercises and an annual competition involving teams of Ministerial Emergency Services, Kyrgyzaltyn contribute to our preparedness and emergency response capabilities. We provide training according to the requirements of the authorized state bodies. If significant events happen, we analyze and learn from them, review our emergency procedures, and improve them as appropriate.