From mine tech to workplace culture: Workplace intangibles of mental health, leadership paces annual Sudbury mining safety conference.

Author:McKinley, Karen
Position:Mining - Conference notes

The 20th annual Mining Health and Safety Conference has been selling out every year, a signal that the industry is taking the subject seriously.

That was the case, again, at the 2018 installment on April 17 and 18 in Sudbury, with delegates packing the conference to take part in conversations ranging from technology, to mental health, and improving leadership.

Mike Parent, director of mining at Workplace Safety North (WSN), said he was very pleased with the interest and large crowds.

"It speaks volumes to what the industry gets out of this conference," he said. "We have over 300 individuals, plus a trade show coming here, not just congregating around the message of building a strong culture, but to network, exchange stories and get together.

All with the goal of making workplaces better."

Parent explained the reception and feedback is demonstrating the organization and conference is having an impact. There are fewer accidents and deaths in the mining workplace.

Every year they try to focus on a theme to generate interest in the industry.

Last year it was innovation, and this year it was culture. According to surveys and feedback from clients.

"I've asked people to walk around, talk to the industry people, the trade show and find out what are people looking for next year," he said. "We don't autocratically decide what that theme will be. We want the industry to tell us what the emerging topics are, so we can have a conference that first what the industry wants," he said.

Day one focused on keynote speakers talking about broader stories, including psychology, statistics, studies and historical highs and lows. Day 2 focused on shorter, smaller technical sessions, where speakers talked about smaller, more focused topics, like impairment in the workplace, violence prevention and occupational hygiene.

There was also a trade show, featuring everything from services, to clothing sales, lighting and cameras, specialized equipment, health and safety services.

The structure was deliberate, Parent said, mostly due to time and physical constraints. It would be logistically impossible to do both in the same day. The conference is broken up so the message can flow consistently, and attendees can take what they learned from one session to another and build on their knowledge.

The first keynote speaker was author and professional business speaker Michelle Ray, who brought a high-energy talk on how to create better leadership through nurturing character...

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