Mining companies are traditionally very conservative and operate under a rigid, hierarchical organization umbrella. The work force was classified into workers, employees, supervisors and management. At SPCC’s Toquepala mine, the hierarchy was announced by the color of your safety hardhat.
Mine Safety Supervisor, Jose xxxxxxx, explained how safety was expressed as a color at the Toquepala mine. I noticed right away that Jose was wearing a white safety hat. Jose handed me a new white hat still wrapped in clear plastic. Electricians wore yellow, maintenance workers wore blue, and warehouse workers wore brown. The blasting crew wore red hardhats for extreme danger and risk, and managers. Vice presidents and the president wore aluminum hats.
My position of chief storekeeper, general foreman level, corresponded to a white hardhat. A few years later, when I was promoted to logistics manager, I wore an aluminum hardhat.
Aluminum is no longer used as a hardhat material. Aluminum is an excellent conductor of electricity and a serious safety risk for anyone wearing it, especially during a lightning storm.
One safety policy is the same today as it was in 1975: no one is permitted in the mine without wearing a hardhat. Today, most mines use white as a hardhat color for everyone.
During the six years at SPCC, I remember two fatal accidents....
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