Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review
In late 2013, the province asked Ontario's Chief Prevention Officer George Gritziotis to undertake a comprehensive review of the occupational health and safety issues related to the underground mining sector.
The Chief Prevention Officer brought together an advisory group made up of employer and labour industry representatives, health and safety organizations and affected families.
The review also established six stakeholder working groups, made up of labour and employer representatives which were coordinated by representatives from the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, Workplace Safety North, and the research community. Each group reviewed previous inquiries and inquests, as well as all other information, such as feedback from a public consultation process, to help inform their work.
In total, the advisory group conducted 12 public sessions across the province. More than 150 people participated, representing employers, labour, other interested parties and individuals. In addition, the review received 64 written submissions.
Topics reviewed include:
- The capacity of the health and safety system to meet the needs of the underground mining sector, including current regulations and enforcement mechanisms
- The impact of technological changes on health, safety and prevention in underground mines, including the role of risk assessment as part of the management of change process
- Training, skills and labour supply issues
- Ground stability
- Water management practices
- Proper barricades and warning systems, particularly with respect to open holes
- Occupational disease
- The Internal Responsibility System, including employer/labour conflict resolution
Among the 18 recommendations in the final report, the following have a direct effect on workers in underground mines:
- Require employers in the mining sector to conduct risk assessments
- Enhance ground control protection by identifying key elements in the control of these hazards and requiring employers to maintain a record of significant seismic events in addition to incidents of ground instability
- Require employers to prepare a formal plan to manage hazards that cause occupational illness, including requirements for worker and supervisor training and communication
- Require all underground mines employers to have in place a formal water management program
- Specify that precautions be taken by employers to guard against the accumulation of water in bins, ore and waste passes and chutes
- Require all underground mines to have in place a formal traffic management plan
- Require mining companies to conduct risk assessments to establish Emergency Response Plans for exploration sites, new mines, surface mines and mining plants.
In addition, the review has recommended that the Ministry of Labour, supported by all relevant health and safety system partners and subject matter experts, undertake a Mining Sector Risk Assessment with employers and labour every three years.
The government is accepting and acting on all eighteen consensus recommendations from the advisory group's final report.
- Labour Vice Chair: John Perquin, United Steelworkers, Assistant to the International Secretary-Treasurer
- Employer Vice Chair: Fergus Kerr, Global Atomic Fuels Corporation, Vice President of Operations
- Mike Bond, United Steelworkers, Chair, Local 6500 Health, Safety and Environment Committee; Worker Co-Chair, Mining Legislative Review Committee
- Roger Emdin, Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, Glencore, Manager, Sustainable Development; Employer Co-Chair, Mining Legislative Review Committee
- Cam Mustard, Institute for Work and Health, President and Senior Scientist
- Candys Ballanger-Michaud, Workplace Safety North, Chief Executive Officer
- Wendy Fram, Observer, Mining Inquiry Needs Everyone's Support (MINES)