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Vehicle/Mobile Equipment and Visibility Hazards in Mining Workplaces

  • Issued: December 31, 2014
  • Content last reviewed: January 2017

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.

Workers can be at risk of serious injury or death due to hazards involving vehicles and mobile equipment at mines.

Various types of vehicles, including locomotives, haul trucks and mobile equipment such as loaders and excavators can be found in mining workplaces. Incidents involving these vehicles have resulted in worker injuries, deaths and damage to property. There have also been a number of “near misses” in which incidents could have occurred. Visibility is an issue in about half of all mining fatalities involving mobile equipment, according to Workplace Safety North.

Duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act

Employers, supervisors, and workers have duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Regulation for Mines and Mining Plants. Below are some duties that apply to vehicle/mobile equipment and visibility hazards.

Employers

  • Ensure workers are provided with information, instruction and supervision to protect their health and safety. This may include training vehicle operators and those working in proximity to vehicles on the workplace’s rules for safe operation of vehicles, including the traffic management program.
  • Ensure equipment and protective devices are maintained in good condition.
  • Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers from vehicle hazards. This may include controls such as those mentioned below.
  • Develop and maintain a written traffic management program in consultation with the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative, if any.
    • Include measures and procedures in the program to:
      • prevent collisions, of motor vehicles, that may endanger the health and safety of workers by addressing hazards relating to reduced or impeded visibility of motor vehicle operators; and
      • protect the health and safety of workers and pedestrians who may be endangered by the movement of a motor vehicle.
    • Provide a copy of the program to the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative, if any, and keep a copy readily available at the mine site.
    • Review the program at least annually.
  • Develop procedures to control and govern the movement of vehicles, other vehicles and pedestrians, where such vehicles restrict the view of the operator because of size or design.
  • Ensure that motor vehicles, other than motor vehicles running on rails, are operated only by a competent operator except for purposes of training or testing.
  • Ensure workers wear high visibility safety apparel and retro-reflective material applied to the front, back and sides of head gear, as prescribed, to enable workers to be seen when working underground or between sunset and sunrise on surface operations.
  • Ensure all high visibility safety apparel and all retro-reflective material on head gear is maintained in good condition so that they adequately visually identify a worker.
  • Ensure effective illumination appropriate for the task is provided where the nature of the equipment or the operation may create a hazard to a worker.
  • Ensure traffic control procedures are established, including a provision for the control of emergency situations, where a motor vehicle is operated on a grade or ramp.
  • Ensure safety stations in an underground mine are of adequate size and plainly marked.

Supervisors

  • Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of workers.
  • Ensure workers comply with the OHSA and Regulation for Mines and Mining Plants.
  • Ensure workers use any equipment, protective devices or clothing required by the employer, including high visibility safety apparel.
  • Advise workers of the existence of any potential or actual hazards of which the supervisor is aware. This may include vehicle traffic hazards.

Workers

  • Report any traffic-related hazards, as well as any contraventions, to your supervisor or employer.
  • Work in compliance with the OHSA and Regulation for Mines and Mining Plants.
  • Use or wear the personal protective equipment that your employer requires to be used or worn, including high visibility safety apparel.
  • Do not use or operate equipment or machines or work in a manner that may endanger yourself or any other worker.

Work practices

When possible, engineering controls should be developed and implemented to separate moving vehicles from each other and from nearby workers on foot. Administrative controls should be considered when separation of vehicles and nearby workers is not possible. Administrative controls could include rules of the road, markings and signage, and use of signallers. The following are work practices to protect a worker from vehicle/mobile equipment and visibility hazards.

Engineering controls

  • Install barriers to separate pedestrians and vehicle areas.
  • Designate routes for workers who work in close proximity to moving vehicles so they avoid vehicle traffic (surface mines).
  • Install appropriate barriers and lighting at dumping points.
  • Take traffic flows into consideration and plan parking locations to minimize interaction of larger and smaller vehicles.
  • Install appropriate area and vehicle lighting and develop an awareness of hazards caused by glare from natural or artificial lights.
  • Install assistive devices on vehicles or in the workplace to improve visibility. This should include:
    • warning lights to indicate the presence of vehicles/pedestrians in the workplace
    • devices on vehicles such as mirrors, proximity sensing/viewing devices such as cameras, reversing alarms, communication radios and warning lights.
  • When designing mines, take visibility-related hazards and clearance requirements (walls and back) into consideration for equipment operators and nearby workers on foot.
  • Eliminate and/or be aware of blind spots on mobile equipment and vehicles, especially when implements (such as forks or buckets) are in a raised position.
  • Install appropriate and well maintained lights and striping on all vehicles.
  • Ensure computer displays or other equipment added to a vehicle’s cab meet manufacturers’ recommendations and are sized and located so they don’t interfere with an operator’s view.
  • Avoid hazards involving haulageway “clearance” (space needed to pass through a haulageway) when possible, or ensure the clearance is clearly marked.
  • Properly locate safety stations on haulageways.

Administrative controls

  • Develop and maintain a traffic management program: A written traffic management program for workplace traffic can reduce the risk of incidents between vehicles and nearby workers. The program could address site and task specific risks and should contain the following components:
    • Before creating the program, a workplace traffic assessment is recommended to identify:
      • vehicle routes and walking routes for nearby workers
      • areas with greater collision risk due to the type of vehicle, pedestrian activities and/or area layout.
      • areas where tramming routes overlap with other activities.
    • All workers should be trained on the program. Temporary workers and contractors should also be aware of the program.
    • Interactive training should be provided to help operators and nearby workers see and understand what an operator can and cannot see. For example, trainers may want to have workers sit in the driver’s seat to better understand visibility limitations.
  • Implement communication protocols, warning signs, lights or other safeguards to protect workers around vehicle traffic.
  • The use of traffic control lights for the movement of pedestrians and motor vehicles.
  • Use competent signallers.
  • Monitor compliance with the program. This should be done by supervisors and could include observations at important intersections or along passageways, observations of vehicle markings and reflective striping on workers and/or monitoring of radio traffic.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Ensure workers are wearing high visibility safety apparel that is maintained in good condition to adequately visually identify a worker. Ensure worker head gear is being maintained and has the required retro-reflective striping.
  • Consider adding auxiliary lights to hard hats in dark conditions.
  • Maintain any head lamps or auxiliary lights that are being used.

Some questions for employers to consider

  1. Has a written traffic management program been developed at the workplace? Is the traffic management program being reviewed at least annually?
    • Have you completed an assessment to identify hazards and ensure appropriate traffic management measures and procedures have been identified and implemented to address hazards relating to reduced or impeded visibility of vehicle operators?
    • Are you ensuring the reporting of “near miss” incidents with vehicles and pedestrians to assist you in traffic planning?
    • What measures and procedures have been taken to separate vehicle traffic from workers on foot?
  2. Do you have measures and procedures as part of your program to ensure safe interaction between vehicles, equipment and workers on foot?
    • Has your workplace’s joint health and safety committee or worker health and safety representative been consulted?
    • Have workers been trained in these measures and procedures?
  3. Do work lineups include location of equipment operation and instructions to workers on necessary precautions, including communication if entering an area where equipment may be operating? Are contractors or other visitors to your workplace aware of the vehicle hazards and instructed to follow the necessary measures and procedures of your traffic management program?
  4. Have you considered if specific equipment or vehicles could assist in safe interaction and collision avoidance at the workplace?
  5. Have you identified situations where your workplace requires the use of a competent signaller?
  6. Have you ensured that any displays or other equipment added to the vehicle meet manufacturers’ recommendations and do not interfere with the operator’s view?
  7. Have you determined if workers and/or vehicles need auxiliary lighting to enhance their visibility to other vehicle operators?
  8. If there is a system (lights, communications, signage, reflectors etc.) to indicate workers/vehicles on a ramp or in a work area, is it working effectively? Have workers been trained? Does everyone understand how to use it correctly?
  9. Does your workplace’s engineered design meet the clearance requirements to safely operate large equipment?

More information

High Visibility Safety Apparel for Mines and Mining Plants
Ministry of Labour

Mobile Equipment
Ministry of Labour

Pedestrian/Mobile Equipment Visibility
Workplace Safety North (WSN)

Occupational Health and Safety Act and related regulations

Toll-free number

Call 1-877-202-0008 any time to report critical injuries, fatalities or work refusals. Call 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday for general questions about workplace health and safety. Always call 911 in an emergency.

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Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.

It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.

While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.