Sentinels of Safety: Smoky Canyon Mine Honored with Prestigious National Award

November 16, 2023

Simplot’s laser focus on safety is emphasized throughout the Company at our sites around the world. This is certainly true at Simplot’s Smoky Canyon Mine in Afton, Wyoming. Employees there have taken numerous measures to keep the facility and its workers safe, while meeting business and sustainability objectives.


This commitment to safety recently received national recognition at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. On Oct. 19, the National Mining Association (NMA), the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement honored outstanding achievements in mine safety and technology – including those realized at Smoky Canyon.


Simplot’s Smoky Canyon Mine was among only twenty American mining operations – six coal mines and 14 mineral/metal mines – honored with the NMA’s Sentinels of Safety Award for 2022. Smoky Canyon was recognized in the Large Open Pit category; the mine also received this award in 2013 in the same category.


The award recognizes, across 10 categories, total employee hours worked in a calendar year without a single lost time injury. These categories reflect the safety accomplishments of both small and large mines. A minimum of 4,000 hours is required for award consideration.

“We were so happy that our team was recognized for the hard work our miners dedicate every day to grow our safety culture,” said Simplot Senior Director Health Safety & Security Alicia Duke, who attended the ceremony with a group of other Simplot employees. “To be among this small group of mines in this prestigious national recognition speaks volumes. It’s welcome validation for a lot of hard work and trust with the employees … they are truly involved in the processes, which make them successful.”


Smoky Canyon Mine Manager Dan Darlington said it was very important to have employees from the site come to D.C. to accept the award, since their efforts are why Simplot received the honor. These attendees included those who contributed in an exceptional way to mine safety culture, such as safety committee members who have gone above and beyond, as well as the Smoky Canyon Safe Employee of the Year.

When asked what contributed most to Simplot winning the award, Smoky Canyon Mining Safety Manager Robert Roberts pointed out the commitment to and passion for safety the team at Smoky demonstrate every day to protect themselves and their co-workers. “The Safety Committee is active in reviewing CARE data, near-miss data and communicating back with employees,” said Roberts. “There is collaboration on best practices among the AgriBusiness mines and manufacturing plants.”


Sharing of incidents and internal mine audits are also instrumental to Smoky Canyon’s safety successes, according to Simplot Director of Mining Chad Gentry. “They are conducted twice a year at every mine, with teams made up from members at each mine, such as safety committee members and representatives from all departments in the mine. From these audits best practices are developed and shared and implanted.”


Initiated in 1925 by then Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover, a former mining engineer, the Sentinels of Safety Award program remains the nation’s most prestigious recognition of mine safety and has helped foster a strong safety commitment on the part of U.S. mines.


Did You Know: Smoky Canyon comprises several departments within the site, and all of them have gone years without a reportable injury – the longest for more than 13 years!


Learn more about Simplot’s Mining & Manufacturing operations, including at Smoky Canyon Mine.

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