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Laura Lee: When Drilling Safety and Gratitude Come First

By March 6, 2020May 12th, 2022No Comments

Catching up with Laura Lee, Major Drilling Canada, Percussive HSEC Coordinator

Update: October 2021

In April 2020, I transferred from Timmins, Ontario, Canada, to our Sudbury, Ontario, branch and was thrilled to be working under the same roof with the rest of our Percussive group.

Having started my career in the mining industry 10 years ago, I’m still learning something new every day. I’ll always be grateful to Major Drilling for giving me the opportunity to fulfill my passion to become a Canadian HSEC Coordinator.

As a woman in mining, when it comes to being a mother, I do my best to be a wonderful role model to my daughter. The COVID-19 pandemic sure caused havoc all over the world. Still, we continued to move forward, not allowing it to dampen our spirits. It was quite an adjustment for a few months having to work from home and not being able to travel. On the plus side, it gave our Management team and I the opportunity to focus on other important tasks.

I am excited to be back out into the field and see everyone as it had been quite some time. Restrictions are starting to be lifted, and I’m currently back to traveling to projects throughout Canada. It is great to see our percussive crews and finally feel some type of normalcy again.

Laura Lee is one of Major Drilling’s ambassadors of safety as she trains drillers to adhere to safety programs.

Laura Lee’s path from the office into the field began the way many of the most successful journeys do—with determination, support and gratitude.

Lee started her drilling career behind a desk as an administrative assistant in the health and safety department of an Alberta, Canada, drilling company in the early 2010s. Her passion for health and safety ignited in that role. She soon sought opportunities to stretch her abilities during her next administrative position at Taurus Drilling.

When Major Drilling purchased Taurus Drilling in 2014, Lee was onboarded with a talented group of staff and drillers. Once Lee’s supervisor learned of her desire to move into safety field work, a pathway was cleared for her to become trained and pursue a new role as a Major Drilling Health, Safety, Environment and Community Officer.

HSEC Officers are an important and necessary part of the Major Drilling family of drilling professionals. They complete routine safety checks on both equipment and workers to ensure they meet or exceed all applicable government and client standards. Lee is a critical part of the HSEC team at the Major Drilling Canada Percussive Drilling Division based in Timmins, Ontario. She is one of several female HSEC officers working at varying levels in the field and on the corporate safety team. Major Drilling has tripled the amount of women working in field positions in the past year.

Major Drilling Canada Percussive Division HSEC Coordinator, Laura Lee (center), stands with drillers at a drilling project site in the Yukon.

“Now I spend most of my time in the field, and some time in the office,” Lee said. She will typically conduct safety meetings with the crews, go underground to conduct site safety inspections, communicate with crews and the client to address concerns, and make any needed corrections. While safety is always her principal focus, Lee does get in some hands-on experience.

Her favorite drilling moment was detonating a blast on surface at the Impala Canada Lac Des Iles Mine near Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. She describes blasting as a great experience, exclaiming, “Wow, what a rush!” Lee has installed a cable bolt in an uphole, underground at the Timmins West Mine in Ontario. She also provides support to supervisors and incident management for the Canadian Percussive group.

Laura Lee, Major Drilling HSEC Coordinator

Lee envisions herself working long-term as a drilling sector professional. Working for Major Drilling provides women and men with many opportunities in coring, percussive and energy groups.

“It may be a large company, but it still has that ‘family’ feel,” Lee said. She sees a bright future with potential management opportunities ahead. “They promote from within and are a very structured and professional company. I hope to stay and retire from Major Drilling.”

One of Lee’s standout traits is her gratitude toward those who have helped step her career forward. She is thankful for supervisors and others who have taken time to commend her hard work.

“I truly love my career,” Lee said. “I’m so blessed to work with great leaders. They provide strong support. Knowing that they want me to be successful makes me want to succeed even more.”

When an unexpected staff transition left the Percussive Division with a temporary gap, Lee saw an opportunity to surge ahead and fulfill every necessary HSEC duty. Lee later received a touching commendation she’ll never forget.

“[Laura] is on the ball for all contracts,” wrote a Supervisor. “She is taking care of everything with training and safety and doing one hell of a job. We cannot lose her as her position is crucial.”

When she saw that these words of recognition were shared all the way up the line to Canadian Operations General Manager at the time, Ashley Martin, who is now VP Operations – South America, Lee says, “I was truly moved by this. I admit I teared up because I’m simply doing my job and really do care about each of our workers.”

Laura Lee stands for a photo at the Impala Canada Lac Des Iles Mine in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.

Lee challenges herself to take on the sometimes frustrating attitude people have toward safety. She likes the new perspectives and travel opportunities her work offers including Major Drilling headquarters in Moncton, New Brunswick, the USA Division in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, as well as mining and drilling properties in the Yukon, Manitoba,  and Ontario locations such as Red Lake, Thunder Bay, Matachewan, Kirkland Lake, and Sudbury.

As each woman in mining and drilling makes her own way through an industry working toward more diversity and inclusion, Lee is grateful for her journey from behind a desk and into the field as a safety officer, “It’s great to see more women working in the mining industry. I’ve worked very hard to get to where I am and am thankful to be given this opportunity.”

Five Women at Major Drilling Making Strides to Support the Mining Industry

In 2020, the world marks March 8 as International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the varied contributions women make to society. Major Drilling is highlighting five women who inspire the industry to support, expand and change minds about women in mining and drilling:

See our full story and features of our other Major Drilling Women in Mining: