Serious attention to its people, its neighbours and the environment make it possible for Lehigh Materials in Sechelt to deliver a quality product locally, nationally and internationally. For mine manager Gabe Morrelli, administration assistant Laura Needham and environment and land manager Sophie Mullen — all three of these elements working in tandem is what makes the company successful.
For the Sechelt Mine, the safety and health of its 59 employees is the top priority. A running tally of the time worked without an accident resulting in missed work is the first thing visitors to the operation see. All of the employees at the mine are reminded daily of the importance of their health and safety.
“Safety is our number one priority at the Sechelt facility,” said Laura. “We have a zero-harm policy here, which means we record absolutely every little nick. That gives us vital information and trends so we can implement preventative measures and try to avoid any future accidents. Safety is definitely front and foremost for us.”
“People often ask about the importance of zero harm,” said Gabe. “Well, we believe you have the right to come into work and leave just as healthy as you arrived. While we love what we do for a living, we work to provide a good income and security for our families and that’s what we’ve used as our pillars to create this culture of health and safety.”
Lehigh Heidelberg understands that open communication is essential to the company’s relationship with its employees and its neighbors. Lehigh is active in the community and is proactive about matters that are important to the people of Sechelt. The company regularly meets with community groups and individuals to answer any questions about the facility and its operations.
Over the years the company has taken many steps to reduce the impacts of its operations on the surrounding community. Noise from the facility has been significantly reduced and the company regularly employs professional monitoring consultants to ensure compliance with the requirements of both the District of Sechelt and the province of British Columbia. The most recent data indicates noise levels are well within the required range. In fact, at 11 p.m., the noise level is equivalent to what most people experience from normal household activities such as watching TV.
Dust management is another challenge for the Sechelt team. Maintenance of the road leading to the mine plays a key role in reducing fugitive dust. Although the Sechelt Indian Band owns the road, several times a year Lehigh digs out the road base and lays down magnesium chloride to combat the dust. Other areas of the mine are watered daily using recycled water from plant operations to keep the dust down.
From an environmental perspective, the company is committed to operating in an ecologically responsible and sustainable manner. Based in Vancouver, Sophie Mullen focuses on water conservation and recycling, land reclamation and long-term sustainability strategies. She works closely with the mine management and Lehigh’s parent company to ensure the Sechelt operation makes positive contributions to the environment and the community.
“We’ve worked really hard to keep our work at the mine as transparent as possible.”
“We’ve worked really hard to keep our work at the mine as transparent as possible,” said Sophie. “We welcome feedback from our neighbors and make every attempt to address any concerns.”
One way the company achieves this transparency is through its annual open house. Every year, on the second Saturday in September, the company opens its gates to the community and provides complimentary food and entertainment while educating visitors on the mine and its operations. In addition, administration assistant Laura Needham is available throughout the year to answer any questions about the facility.