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Blitz Results
Mobile Equipment: Traffic Control Measures in Underground and Surface Mines 2015

Safe At Work Ontario
  • Issued: December 16, 2015
  • Content last reviewed: December 2015

Safety is an important issue for underground and surface mines. Workers can be at risk of serious injury due to hazards involving vehicles and mobile equipment at mines. The Ministry of Labour is committed to protecting mine workers in Ontario.

In July and August 2015, mining inspectors and engineers targeted traffic control hazards that could result in workers being injured or killed.

Inspectors checked that employers were complying with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations. This included checking that mines had good traffic control procedures in place to protect workers as per section 106 of Regulation 854.

Mines use locomotives and motor vehicles such as haulage trucks, loaders and excavators. Incidents involving locomotives and motor vehicles have resulted in worker injuries, fatalities and damage to property. Traffic control measures are used when the vehicle or equipment operator’s visibility is limited, because these situations can put pedestrians or workers on foot who are near the vehicle at risk of injury.

The blitz’s goals were to:

  • raise awareness of key health and safety hazards involving interaction with vehicles, mobile equipment and workers at underground and surface mines
  • increase workplace compliance with the law and
  • prevent injuries and illness that could arise from unsafe work practices.

Protection of mine workers is part of the government's continued commitment to eliminate workplace injuries and illness through its Safe At Work Ontario strategy.

Report Summary

Between 2000 and 2014, 12 workers died in Ontario mines as a result of incidents involving motor vehicles and mobile equipment. These incidents included collisions.

During the July and August 2015 blitz, ministry inspectors conducted 99 visits to 85 mining workplaces. Some of the mines were visited several times. Inspectors issued 274 orders under the OHSA and its regulations, including 21 stop work orders.

Full report

Workplace inspection blitzes

Inspection blitzes are part of the province's Safe At Work Ontario compliance strategy. They are announced to the sector by the ministry in advance, although individual workplaces are not notified in advance. Results are posted on the ministry's website.

The blitzes raise awareness of known workplace hazards and promote compliance with the OHSA and its regulations.

Inspectors' findings may impact the frequency and level of future inspections of individual workplaces. Inspectors may also refer employers to health and safety associations for compliance assistance and training.

Blitz focus

Mining inspectors and engineers visited underground and surface mines across Ontario to ensure compliance with the OHSA, including those requirements relating to the motor vehicles and mobile equipment to prevent worker injuries and fatalities.

In particular, the blitz targeted:

  • recently reopened or new mines
  • mines where previous motor vehicle and/or mobile equipment hazards were observed
  • mines where previous safety incidents involving traffic control occurred
  • mines with a poor compliance history

Inspectors and engineers focused on:

  • Measures and procedures: Inspectors checked that mines had proper measures and procedures in place, including for traffic control and motor vehicle equipment operation.
  • Worker visibility: Inspectors checked that workers were wearing head gear with retro-reflective material and outer clothing that enabled them to be seen.
  • Effective illumination: Inspectors checked that illumination was made available where insufficient lighting existed due to the nature of the environment, equipment or operation.
  • Worker safe location: Inspectors checked that procedures were in place to ensure equipment operators and other workers were situated at a safe location when equipment was operated or moved by remote control.
  • Clearance requirements: Inspectors checked that the engineered design for underground mines met the legislated width requirements for “haulageways” (tunnels, other travel areas and openings where motor vehicles are operated). Generally, these areas must be at least 1.5 metres wider than the maximum width of the vehicles. This is to provide enough clearance so vehicles can be safely operated. The goal is to prevent “pedestrians” (workers on foot) from being injured.
  • Worker training: Inspectors checked that workers were properly trained and supervised to prevent injuries and fatalities.

Inspectors took enforcement action, as appropriate, in response to any violations found under the OHSA or its regulations.

Inspection activity summary

Table 1 below is an overall summary of the blitz’s activity.

Table 1: Visits to mines
Program Activities Number
Field visits 99
Number of workplaces visited 85
Orders issued 274
Stop work orders 21
Requirements 7
Orders and requirements per workplace visited 3.2
Orders and requirement per visit [1] 2.8
[1]Some mines were visited more than once

Order analysis

Orders were issued under the OHSA and Regulations for Mines and Mining Plants for various violations.

Table 2: 10 Most frequently issued orders under the OHSA and Mining Regulations during blitz
Reason for order Number of orders Percentage of total orders during blitz
Failure to ensure equipment, materials and protective devices provided by employer are maintained in good condition (OHSA s. 25(1)(b)) 25 9.12%
Failure to take every precaution reasonable in circumstances for protection of workers (OHSA s. 25(2)(h)) 25 9.12%
Stop work on any place, equipment, machine, device, article, thing, process or material until order is complied with (OHSA s. 57(6)(a)(b)) 21 7.66%
Failure to comply with requirement for open side of a ramp haulage road in a surface mine to be provided with suitable protective barrier (Mining Reg. s. 116(2)) 16 5.84%
Failure to comply with requirement a machine with exposed moving part that could endanger a worker be fenced or guarded unless its position, construction or attachment provides equivalent protection (Mining Reg. s. 185(2)) 13 4.74%
Failure to comply with requirement for electrical equipment to be installed or modified in accordance with good electrical practices (Mining Reg. s. 155(1)) 12 4.38%
Failure to comply with requirement a conveyor’s head, tail, drive, deflection and tension pulleys be guarded at any accessible pinch point (Mining Reg. s. 196(2)(d)0 7 2.55%
Failure to comply with requirement a motor vehicle be in safe working condition when in use (Mining Reg. s. 105(1)(a)) 4 1.46%
Failure to comply with requirement a procedure be adopted for the testing, maintenance and inspection of each motor vehicle and include a record of any testing, maintenance and inspection (Mining Reg. s. 105(7)(d)) 4 1.46%
Failure to comply with requirement for wheel chocks to be used to block movement whenever a vehicle is left unattended on a slope or is being maintained or repaired (Mining Reg. s. 107(2)) 4 1.46%

Prevention

In December 2013, the Minister of Labour asked Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer to undertake a Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review focusing specifically on the occupational health and safety needs of the underground mining sector.

The goal was to:

  • ensure Ontario mine workers return home healthy and safe at the end of every shift and
  • maintain a productive and innovative mining industry.

The review identified several significant hazards which were studied by subject matter experts.

The review identified the need for improved high visibility apparel in mining workplaces in advance of the final report and recommendations. Regulatory amendments were recently approved that will enhance requirements regarding high visibility safety apparel. These strengthened requirements, which apply to underground and surface mines, will come into effect on July 1, 2016.

On April 15, 2015, the Labour Minister accepted all 18 recommendations made in the final report. One of the recommendations required all underground mines to have in place a formal traffic management program. The Ministry is currently working on implementing all of the recommendations contained in the final report, including the one related to having a formal traffic management program.

Conclusion and next steps

This blitz’s results confirm the ministry’s need to continue focused enforcement on mobile equipment traffic control hazards in underground and surface mines.

This includes the need for mining inspectors to focus on requirements for vehicle maintenance and use (Section 105 of Regulation 854) during future inspections in underground and surface mines, including checking that:

  • pre-operational vehicle checks have been done
  • electrical work is being done in accordance with good electrical practices (Reg. 854, Section 155)
  • machine guarding requirements are being complied with (Reg. 854, Section 185) and
  • conveyor guarding requirements are being complied with (Reg. 854, Section 196).

A key to workplace health and safety in Ontario is the internal responsibility system. Workplace parties are encouraged to work together to identify and control hazards involving mobile equipment and its use in mines.

Compliance help for employers

Please contact Ministry of Labour health and safety partners for more information on identifying, preventing and controlling water management hazards.