Safety and Health

The management approach and its components

Evaluation of the management approach

Work-related injuries


Safety First is a core value at Covia, and our dedication to safety extends to all who create, handle, distribute, and use our products. We take steps to ensure our employees are healthy and safe in the workplace and at home, our customers know how to responsibly handle and use our products, and our product formulations are safe when used properly.


Covia is committed to implementing, operating, and continuously improving our Safety and Health Management System (SHMS) to ensure a healthy and safe work environment. Our dedicated team of safety and health experts, who receive support from our Safety and Health and Wellness SD Teams, are located across all our operations. As part of our SHMS, we maintain policies and procedures that align with the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Specification (OHSAS) 18001 and cover a wide range of topics, which include Mine Safety, Fall Protection, and Burner/Flame Safety, among others. We have a set of Lifesaving Rules as well as an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) that covers a wide range of situations.

Safety is embedded in everything we do, in the way we do business. We provide regular training on our safety policies and procedures, including annual emergency action drills. Our training program guides all employees to consider Safety First. New employees working in logistics and manufacturing receive a minimum of eight hours of onboarding safety training, and new employees in our mining operations receive a minimum of 24 hours of safety onboarding training. Every site operating procedure has numerous safety elements that are reviewed/updated at least annually. We provide additional safety orientation in the field, including task-based training, and require annual safety training for all operations employees. Employees who spend time in the field also complete annual safety refresher training. To fulfill legal requirements and promote safety, our safety and health resources customize safety training material to each location, ensuring the information provided is applicable and engaging. To reinforce the importance of safety, we begin most meetings, regardless of their nature, with a safety message, also called a “safety share.” To further encourage the adoption of our safety training material, we administer an incentive system in certain locations that rewards our employees for their commitment to safety training and safe work practices.

Covia has a set of five lifesaving rules:

  • Safety Before Production;
  • See It – Stop It – Report It;
  • Separate People From Mobile Equipment;
  • Lock Out – Tag Out – Try Out; and
  • Manage Risks. 

Training on these lifesaving rules is included in new employee induction and annual refresher training in order to ensure they are embedded within our culture. While our primary focus is on injury and illness prevention, when incidents do occur, we have a robust and systematic approach to determining primary contributing factors called ICAM (Incident Cause Analysis Method). ICAM is a system that focuses investigators on failed or missing defenses and organizational contributing factors, placing less emphasis on individuals or teams. Our behavioral approach to safety and health, called Safety Starts with Me, focuses on providing positive feedback when safe and healthy behaviors are observed. We feel that by positively reinforcing safe and healthy behaviors, they are more likely to be repeated.

Covia is vigilant in protecting our employees from potential respirable crystalline silica dust exposure. As a first line of defense, we rely on the hierarchy of controls to limit employee exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Protecting our employees is about minimizing their exposure to respirable crystalline silica. We regularly conduct dust exposure monitoring via both personal and general area sampling. Job positions or areas identified with elevated exposure, or even the potential for elevated exposure, are investigated and considered for actions to reduce exposures to within our internal exposure limit of 50 ug/m3. To reduce the likelihood of exposures exceeding our internal exposure limit, we use the probability of exceeding the limit. This approach enables us to predict when a job position or area might become problematic, enabling us to often take action before elevated exposures are experienced.

To ensure our employees stay well, we administer a robust medical surveillance program for all plant employees to help protect and reduce the risk of occupational disease like silicosis. This program includes biennial chest x-rays, pulmonary function tests, and medical fitness exams. We also require a representative sample of workers to wear exposure monitoring systems that collect respirable dust in order to quantify individual exposure in comparison to both legal and Covia’s more stringent internal exposure limits. These efforts ensure we are doing as much as is reasonably possible to minimize the risk of employees developing silicosis.

At every Covia location we ensure there are personnel trained in first aid and CPR (including all shifts at our mine sites), and AED equipment is on site. Having trained personnel on site, in combination with AEDs, has resulted in multiple employees and contractors being “saved” after suffering a cardiac accident. Additionally, our "Bringing Safety Home" program encourages employees to keep their homes safe and to positively influence family and friends by sharing simple reminders about safety for daily living.

Our independent contractor safety program includes safety pre-qualification and training on hazard warning recognition and decreasing occupational risks. This includes site-specific training for all visitors to Covia sites, and additional education for contractors working on-site for extended periods of time.

Our customers and contractors share our high standards for safety. We hold our contractors to the same safety performance standards that we hold ourselves to, meeting the applicable federal, state, and local regulations. To ensure compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) requirements, we continually update and provide Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for all our products, which help our customers develop safety guidelines and proper handling procedures.


In 2018, Covia benchmarked the safety and health procedures across our legacy organizations and began developing unified best practice policies. As part of our continuous improvement efforts, we updated our traffic management plans to identify areas at risk of contact between equipment and people. We also began updating signage to symbols instead of written commands to help address language barriers. At certain locations, our employees complete the load out process so that drivers may stay in their trucks. We also continue to improve our predictive analysis, a core component of our Industrial Hygiene Program. By using historical data to predict the probability of high dust exposures, we can better prepare our employees to avoid any unnecessary exposure to potentially harmful dust and other contaminants.

In September, Covia held its first Safety Day focused on emergency response simulations. Across our organization, sites were highly creative in simulating various emergency situations such as falls from height, confined space rescues, and cardiac arrests. Many sites coordinated simulations with local emergency response personnel, including the landing of an air ambulance at one location.

OSHA recently reduced their permissible exposure limit (PEL) for silica by 50 percent, which may impact sand applications in other industries such as foundry, manufacturing, and construction. In June 2021, customers of our proppant products will also be required to control exposures to this more stringent limit. While this new standard applies now, engineering controls are not required until 2021. Our DSTTM (Dust Suppression Technology) treated frac and industrial sands were developed to help customers comply with the new OSHA respirable silica standard. Testing, both in the lab and in the field, has repeatedly shown reductions in respirable crystalline of greater than 95 percent when comparing DSTTM treated vs. untreated sand. In 2019, we will be collaborating with engineers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in further evaluation of our DSTTM products. Where we implement engineered dust control solutions, we target 50 percent of the permissible limits by design.

Three of our facilities achieved Gold level for the Rock Solid Safety Award given by the Illinois Association of Aggregate Producers: Elco, Tamms, and Wedron Silica. Achieving Gold—the highest level—means these facilities had no reported incidents, elevated actions, and a VPID (violations per inspection day) less than the national average.

Covia Continues NIOSH Partnership to Improve Safety

Covia proudly continued our legacy organizations’ long-standing partnership with the National Institute of Safety & Health (NIOSH) on Industrial Hygiene research. In 2018, NIOSH researchers accessed several of our mining facilities to conduct valuable research to further protect our workers and prevent work-related injury or illness. For example, research measuring the effectiveness of dust suppression hoppers showed an 88 percent reduction of fugitive dust emissions by using this technology. Based in part on this research, Covia installed dust suppression hoppers at several load-out facilities. Other research projects evaluated methods to minimize slips, trips and falls; conserve hearing; effectively sample air for various particle sizes; and minimize exposure to welding fumes.

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Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR)*



Covia Employees




*Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR) – The number of reportable incidents multiplied by 200,000 divided by the number of work hours. Since Covia is MSHA-regulated, we use the most current, full-time reportable incident rate.

Lost Time Incident Rate (LTIR)**



Covia Employees




**Lost Time Incident Rate (LTIR) – The number of lost time cases multiplied by 200,000 divided by the number of work hours. Since Covia is MSHA-regulated, we use the most current, full-time reportable incident rate.


In 2019, we will implement updated safety and health policies across our organization. This includes rolling out a new procedure that makes it easier to differentiate Covia employees from non-employees, such as truck drivers, by issuing different colored, highly visibility personal protective equipment. We aim for our next Corporate Responsibility report to include recordable incident and lost time rates for contractors.