The Iron Ore Co. of Canada (IOC) has received the Rio Tinto CEO Ground Breaker Safety Award for its Thumb Activated Microphone on Graders initiative. Ground Breakers is Rio Tinto’s global group-wide recognition awards program, with winners chosen by Rio Tinto Chief Executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques. Awards are given to teams who are doing great work around the business in support of our five priorities- safety, people, cash, partnerships and growth.

“The team put in a lot of hard work to develop an integrated microphone for our graders so that operators can keep their hands on the controls while communicating,” said IOC President and CEO Clayton Walker. “This is an important step to making IOC a safer workplace by addressing our critical risk of vehicle collision or rollover.”

Nominated by Bold Baatar, chief executive of energy and minerals, the IOC team includes Rodney Farrell, Shane Greening, Colin Rideout and John Spurrell, and are among more than 13,000 highly motivated and talented employees within the energy and minerals product group.

The team developd the thumb-activated microphone on graders initiative. In order to communicate with oncoming heavy mine equipment such as the 320-metric-ton haulage trucks and light vehicles, a grader operator active in a pit is required to pick up and click a microphone, which means releasing the operating joystick. On average, this occurs between 75 to 100 times in a 12-hour shift. Releasing the joystick causes the grader to stop abruptly and negatively impacts the continuity and quality of road maintenance.

To address this disruption, the team integrated a “radio” button into the joystick, allowing the operator to make and receive calls without having to release the joystick. In terms of Critical Risk Management (CRM), this solution directly addresses the critical risk of vehicle collision or rollover. In addition it also improves productivity by reducing the impact on roads and the grader, the company said.