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IV. Regulatory Framework

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

The regulatory framework can be a powerful tool in health, safety and prevention. Regulation 854 (Mines and Mining Plants) under the Occupational Health and Safety Act sets out specific occupational health and safety requirements for owners, employers, supervisors and employees at mines and mining plants in Ontario. The regulation addresses health and safety issues in the mining sector, including topics such as training, fire protection, explosives, mine-hoisting plants, and electrical and mechanical equipment.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act and other regulations also set out other requirements that apply generally to all workplaces, including mines and mining plants. These include regulatory requirements regarding, for example, exposure to chemical and biological agents, confined spaces and Workplace Hazardous Materials Information.

Over the past 12 years, there have been several substantive amendments to Regulation 854, with regulatory amendment proposals moving forward typically about every three years. The most recent of these changes came into force on January 1, 2012 and included, among others, updated requirements relating to exposure to diesel exhaust and the introduction of noise reduction requirements.

Amendments to the regulation are often based on recommendations that the Minister of Labour receives from the Mining Legislative Review Committee (MLRC). The MLRC is a committee established under Section 21 of OHSA to advise the Minister on occupational health and safety issues specific to the mining industry. It includes representatives from both labour and management, and is facilitated by ministry staff. The MLRC meets regularly throughout the year and may make consensus-based recommendations to the Minister regarding occupational health and safety issues that affect the mining industry.

The MLRC also has sub-committees that focus on particular hazards, such as electrical, hoisting and diesel. These sub-committees assist in developing recommendations for proposed amendments to the regulation, especially where the changes are technical. Although the Ministry of Labour is responsible for developing any legislative or regulatory amendments, the ministry values the continued contributions and expertise of MLRC members and considers any consensus-based recommendations made by the MLRC when contemplating amendments to the regulation.

In the fall of 2014, the ministry is considering and preparing to consult with stakeholders on a number of potential amendments to Regulation 854, some of which arose from consensus-based recommendations made by the MLRC and others that were identified by government to keep regulatory requirements current. Examples of the issues that may be examined are: possible changes to electrical provisions, conveyor guarding and hoisting requirements, and references in the regulation to certain standards, legislation or agencies that it may require updating. Consideration of these proposed changes now – even as work on the Mining Review continues – will help ensure ongoing progress in keeping the regulation current and respond to issues already identified by stakeholders through the MLRC.

The feedback that the Chief Prevention Officer received from stakeholders during the Mining Review consultations, as well as the recommendations from the various working groups, will help inform the role of the regulatory framework in the mining sector and may identify other regulatory amendments that could also be considered, such as those related to new or emerging technologies or processes or to a particular hazard. For example, one issue that has already been identified is the current requirement regarding high visibility safety apparel. While the ministry has developed a best practice guideline to help stakeholders comply with the current requirements, it may consider proposing possible regulations to align with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) ongoing review of its standard.

Ideas gathered through the consultations and the ongoing work of the Review will also help the ministry continue to work with the MLRC and stakeholders to keep Regulation 854 current and ensure it reflects the needs of all workplace parties in the mining sector.

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