Our Approach to Safety
Safety is a deeply engrained value at Arch. We have consistently led our large, integrated peers in safety performance, as measured by lost-time incident rate. While we’re proud of that accomplishment, we’re sharply focused on further improvement. We have made zero safety incidents at every operation every year our single, highest priority.
Leading in Safety Performance
Lost-time incidents per 200,000 employee-hours worked in 2022
During the past five years, Arch has averaged 0.85 lost-time incidents per 200,000 employee-hours worked, versus an industry average of 2.22. In 2022, Arch averaged 0.57 lost-time incidents per 200,000 employee-hours worked, versus an industry average of 2.17. During the past five years, Arch and its subsidiaries had an average all-incidence rate of 1.15.
As part of its behavior-based safety culture, Arch’s subsidiary operations also track safety “near misses” as part of an ongoing and comprehensive effort to identify and eliminate risks wherever they might occur. During 2022, the employees at Arch subsidiaries identified 348 instances in which risks that could have resulted in injury were present, creating invaluable opportunities to address such risks and reduce the potential for injury in the future. During the past five years, Arch and its subsidiaries had an aggregate average safety “near miss” rate of 11.39 per 200,000 hours worked.
Arch’s corporate culture is grounded in a proactive, behavior-based approach to safety and in the core belief that operating safely is each employee’s top priority. Arch and its subsidiaries are unified in the objective of achieving zero injuries at each operation each and every year, with a highly intensive emphasis on serious injury elimination. Tragically, Arch subsidiaries have experienced three fatalities in the past five years, for a fatal incident rate of 0.016 per 200,000 employee-hours worked.
Across the organization, employees engage in a proactive, behavior-based approach to safety. Every field employee participates in safety training on an ongoing basis, and nearly 100 percent of our field employees have been trained as safety observers. If an at-risk behavior or a barrier to safe behavior is identified, employees are empowered to engage and to apply their training to resolve the potentially unsafe condition or practice immediately. During 2022, Arch’s operating subsidiaries conducted 251,259 written safety observations and 126,744 written pre-job risk assessments, along with countless verbal observations and assessments.
Since launching the behavior-based safety program in 2007, Arch’s operating subsidiaries have recorded more than 2 million safety observations and — in so doing — have created a deep, employee-driven safety culture. Most importantly, the process has resulted in the successful modification of at-risk behaviors and has served as a platform for reinforcing positive behaviors. In addition, Arch operations conduct safety meetings in advance of every shift, to enable every employee to begin every workday sharply focused on working safely.
Employee-Driven Safety Culture
Safety observations recorded by Arch’s operating subsidiaries since launching the behavior-based safety program in 2007
Each Arch subsidiary has recruited a team comprised of both hourly and salaried workers focused on achieving continuous improvement in behavior-based safety at their individual operations. These teams meet with operations leadership and members of Arch’s senior management team annually to report on their successes, explore areas for potential improvement, and refine their plans for the coming year. Beyond regularly scheduled training, preparation is essential to an effective and timely response in the event of a crisis. We measure the effectiveness of our preparation efforts — which include mine rescue teams, fire brigades and a yearly Mine Emergency Response Development (MERD) exercise — through annual site evaluations, where we also explore opportunities for improvement. The MERD exercises bring together national and state safety regulators, key personnel from Arch’s operations, and communications professionals, and create an opportunity for that diverse group to train and drill together in order to promote a cohesive and effective response in the event a crisis ever occurs.
A Commitment to Safety Excellence
Arch subsidiaries have won more than 40 national and state safety awards in the past five years
While emphasis on at-risk behavior has resulted in further improvements in our safety performance, Arch has expanded its efforts to include procedures that have an elevated exposure to risk. Over the past nine years, our mining complexes have conducted Workplace Risk Assessment and Control (WRAC) evaluations. Participation in the WRAC process challenges employees who perform a job function regularly to conduct an in-depth, multi-level evaluation of the procedure in an effort to prevent the occurrence of future safety events. As potential hazards are identified, the group makes the necessary changes to the procedure to mitigate those potential hazards, and those changes are documented and shared across the company. This type of evaluation provides employees with a forum to express potential risks they may encounter while completing their daily tasks — and to problem-solve as a team in order to adjust the procedure appropriately.
Arch’s operations employ nine mine rescue teams that are highly trained in responding to a mining crisis at our own subsidiary operations as well as in assisting other operators. In the past five years, our rescue teams have achieved top finishes in local, state and national mine rescue competitions. Such competitions provide valuable opportunities to sharpen team skills, identify and adopt best practices, and gauge preparedness.
In addition, each of Arch’s underground mines is equipped with advanced rescue equipment, sophisticated communications and tracking systems, and underground refuge chambers equipped with oxygen canisters, water, food and other life-sustaining necessities. Arch’s Wyoming Surface Mine Rescue Team (SMRT) also responds to assist the county when requested.
In 2023, the Leer mine — the largest underground mine in Arch’s subsidiary portfolio — completed 1 million consecutive employee-hours, and more than a year of operation, without a lost-time incident.
During 2022, the Leer mine captured the Milestone Safety Award — West Virginia’s top honor for underground mines — and both the Leer South and Leer South prep plant received West Virginia Mountaineer Guardian Awards for safety excellence. Leer’s award represented the 7th time it had been so honored in the past 8 years. In addition, the West Elk mine was honored by the State of Colorado with the Outstanding Safety Performance Award for 2022.