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About the Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review

  • Issued: September 10, 2014
  • Content last reviewed: September 2014
  • See also: Final Report

Mining is a vital industry in Ontario. In 2013, the sector employed 27,000 people directly and created over 50,000 indirect jobs[1]. In recent years, a variety of new mineral deposits have been found in the province, and the mining industry is expected to grow and become more complex. Miners work in artificial environments that are subject to geological forces so occupational health and safety is extremely important.

In December 2013, the Minister of Labour asked the Chief Prevention Officer to undertake a Mining Sector Health, Safety and Prevention Review (Review). The objective of the Review is to address the occupational health and safety needs of the mining sector, focusing first on underground mines. The Review’s findings will help ensure those who work in mines go home safe and healthy at the end of every shift. They will also help maintain a productive, modern mining industry across our province.

The Review will:

  • assess current and emerging occupational health and safety issues in the mining sector
  • describe the state of health and safety in Ontario mines
  • review past recommendations from public enquiries into mining health and safety and from Coroner’s inquests into mining fatalities
  • make recommendations to enhance and improve mining health and safety.

Who is Involved?

To help guide the Review, the Chief Prevention Officer established a Stakeholder Advisory Group – a small group of key mining stakeholders from labour, employer, and other relevant health and safety organizations (see Appendix A). Members were chosen for their demonstrated commitment to occupational health and safety in the mining sector, and their roles as recognized leaders within their professional / organizational communities. In addition, a representative from the MINES group (Mining Inquiry Needs Everyone’s Support) was asked to join as an observer.

What is the Focus of the Review’s Work?

At its first meeting (January 28, 2014), the Advisory Group identified six key health and safety issues or themes to be explored:

  1. The ability of the occupational health and safety system to meet the needs of the mining sector
  2. New technology and using change management and risk assessment processes to evaluate its implications for health and safety
  3. The Internal Responsibility System[2]
  4. Training, skills and labour supply issues
  5. Health and safety hazards
  6. Emergency preparedness

To address these issues, the Review established six stakeholder Working Groups, made up of labour and employer representatives and coordinated by a representative from the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, Workplace Safety North or the research community. Each group was provided with all the recommendations from previous inquiries and inquests related to its issue as well as all other information such as feedback from the public consultation process that may help them in their work. The Working Groups also have a resource group of subject matter experts who provide information on an as-needed basis. The Working Groups will provide recommendations to the Chief Prevention Officer in the fall of 2014. For a more detailed description of each Working Group, see Appendix B.

Consulting with the Public

To ensure the Review takes into account all views on mining health, safety and prevention, a total of 12 public consultation sessions in six Ontario communities were held: Timmins, Kirkland Lake and Sudbury during the week of March 31st, 2014, Red Lake and Marathon during the week of April 28th, 2014, and London on May 13th 2014. People who wanted to make a formal presentation to the Advisory Group were asked to register before the session began, but walk in presenters were accommodated as well. All the sessions except the first one in Timmins included at least one presentation. Over 150 people participated in the public sessions.

In addition to the formal presentations, people were invited to make comments at the sessions, which were recorded but not attributed to an individual. Summaries of the comments were organized by the six issues (listed above) and shared with the appropriate Working Group.

Ontarians were also invited to make written submissions. Between May 31 to June 15, 2014, the Review posted a consultation paper and slides on the Ministry of Labour website and invited Ontarians to comment in writing. Over 60 written submissions were reviewed and ideas, organized by the six issue areas, were shared with the Advisory Group and the appropriate Working Group.

The Review's work is coordinated by a secretariat in the Ministry of Labour in consultation with mining stakeholders, particularly labour and employers and occupational health and safety practitioners.

Why a Progress Report?

The Review began in January 2014 and will conclude in early 2015. To keep people informed of its progress, the Chief Prevention Officer prepared this report, which:

  • provides a profile of Ontario’s underground mining industry
  • summarizes the key issues identified to date through the consultations and review
  • describes the results of the Ministry of Labour’s Hazard and Risk Identification initiative for the mining sector
  • outlines the regulatory environment
  • highlights steps already taken (early deliverables) to improve health and safety
  • describes in more detail the tasks of each Working Group.

[ 1 ] Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, “More Progress in Mining Act Modernization”, 2012.

[ 2 ] The Internal Responsibility System was described by the Tony Dean Expert Advisory Panel report by referring to the work of Dr. James Ham, and his thoughts on the IRS “…the workplace parties — CEOs, unions, employers, workers and supervisors — play a significant role in promoting workplace health and safety. He emphasized that the role of each of these parties is proportional to the degree of control they exercise in the workplace.”

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