Blitz To Focus On Electrical Hazards In Mining Operations
Ontario Ministry of Labour inspectors will check for hazards involving live electrical equipment at mines during an enforcement blitz in September 2009.
The increased enforcement is part of the province's Safe At Work Ontario strategy, launched in June 2008.
Inspectors will check electrical equipment and practices at underground mines, surface plants and aggregate operations across Ontario.
Most electricity-related injuries occur while workers are doing work near equipment with electrical hazards.
The data also indicates workers responsible for installing or maintaining electrical equipment often do not turn off the power sources before working on that equipment. Working on live, energized electrical equipment is a major safety hazard.
There were 70 electricity-related fatalities in all sectors in the past nine years. Of those, 34 occurred while workers were working near exposed electrical equipment, 29 in which workers were working on energized equipment and seven were working on faulty equipment.
Workers also continued to suffer burns from "arc flash incidents" (electrical explosions). In 2008, burns were responsible for seven of 17 critical injuries and 11 of 83 non-critical injuries.
Although there were few injuries related to electrical equipment in the mining sector, ministry inspectors frequently issue orders to mine employers to improve their electrical safety practices and protocols.
Inspectors will take enforcement action as appropriate to any contraventions found under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations.
For each conviction of a contravention, a court can impose a fine of up to $500,000 against a corporation convicted under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Individuals can face a fine of up to $25,000 or imprisonment of up to 12 months, or both.
Inspectors will specifically target mining operations:
- Identified as being high-priority due to possible electrical hazards
- Known to have highly hazardous processes and equipment
- Where complaints have been received and
- Where there is a poor compliance history.
The blitz will focus on three key priorities:
- that workers don't work on live, energized equipment, except as permitted by regulation
- that workers follow electrical lockout procedures, and
- that employers have analyzed job hazards and tasks to determine the adequacy of clothing, equipment and procedures to protect workers from electrical shock and burns.
Safe At Work Ontario
Sector and hazard specific inspection blitzes are an important feature of Ontario's Safe At Work strategy. There is no acceptable rate of injury in Ontario workplaces.
That's why Safe At Work Ontario seeks to:
- improve workplace health and safety culture
- reduce workplace injuries and illness
- reduce the burden on the health care system
- avoid costs for employers and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and
- provide a level playing field for compliant companies.