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Blitz Results: Safe Material Tramming Underground and Surface Mines 2016

Safe At Work Ontario
  • Issued: January 2017
  • 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 are at risk of serious injury or death if they are exposed to hazards while operating a motor vehicle, or are in an area where the motor vehicle is being operated. Safe measures and procedures must be in place to protect workers.

In September and October 2016, Ministry of Labour inspectors visited underground and surface mines across Ontario. They conducted an enforcement blitz targeting hazards that could result in worker injury or death when material is moved by rail; load, haul and dump (LHD) equipment or haulage trucks.

Inspectors checked that employers were complying with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations. This included checking that mine operators had proper procedures in place to assess and address hazards involving the moving of material.

The blitz’s goals were to:

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

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

Background

Between 2000 and 2015, 14 workers in Ontario’s mining sector died while performing work related to material tramming.

Tramming involves loading, transporting and dumping of materials in mines. Tramming equipment includes:

  • locomotives (trains) running on rails
  • haulage vehicles such as trucks and LHD vehicles (also known as scooptrams)
  • explosive handling equipment
  • forklifts
  • loaders and excavators

Any incident involving motor vehicles or mobile equipment has the potential to be very serious. Past incidents have resulted in serious worker injuries and deaths as well as damage to property.

Report summary

Between September 1 and October 31, 2016, ministry inspectors conducted 19 visits to 19 mining workplaces. Inspectors issued 40 orders[1] under the OHSA and its regulations, including two 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

Ministry of Labour inspectors visited underground and surface mining workplaces across Ontario. In particular, they targeted:

  • recently reopened or new mines
  • mines where previous incidents were observed
  • mines with a poor compliance history
  • mines with young and vulnerable workers

Inspectors and engineers focused on:

  • Measures and procedures: Inspectors checked that mines had proper measures and procedures in place for traffic control and equipment operation.
  • Communication: Inspectors checked that traffic control procedures were in place and known by workers and that pre-operational checks were completed and any deficiencies addressed.
  • Roads and ramps: Inspectors checked that mines were maintaining safe travelways.
  • Worker visibility: Inspectors verified that workers were wearing high visibility apparel and headgear with retro-reflective material that enabled them to be seen.
  • Effective illumination: Inspectors checked that illumination was available when there was insufficient lighting due to the nature of the environment, equipment or operation.
  • Safe worker 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 verified 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).
  • Worker training: Inspectors checked that workers were properly trained and supervised to prevent injuries and deaths.
  • Remote equipment: Inspectors verified that remotely operated equipment and systems had safety features in place to prevent injury. They checked that safety procedures existed for remote equipment operation and that safety stands were being properly designed for remote operation. They also checked that workers were receiving training on safety features for remotely operated equipment.

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 Numbers
Field visits 19
Workplaces visited 19
Orders issued 40
Stop work orders issued 2
Requirements 1
Orders & requirements per workplace visited 2.11
Orders & requirements per field visit 2.11

Order analysis

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

Table 2: Most frequently issued orders under the OHSA and mining regulations during blitz
Reason for order Number of orders Percentage of orders issued during blitz
Failure to comply with requirement that a procedure be adopted for the testing, maintenance and inspection of each motor vehicle and to include a record of any testing, maintenance and inspection [Mining Reg. s. 105(7)(d)] 4 10%
Failure to ensure equipment, materials and protective devices provided by employer are maintained in good condition [OHSA s. 25(1)(b)] 4 10%
Failure to ensure surface mines and openings on the surface to underground mines are protected to prevent inadvertent access [Mining Reg. s. 18(1)] 3 7.5%
Stop work on any place, equipment, machine, device, article, thing, process or material until order is complied with [OHSA s. 57(6)(a)(b)] 2 5%
Failure to ensure where the view of the operator of a motor vehicle in the direction of its travel is limited it is equipped with an audible or visible alarm and the alarm is activated before putting vehicle into motion that will warn a worker who may be endangered by the movement of the vehicle [Mining Reg. s. 105(3)] 2 5%
Failure to ensure flammable refuse is removed at least once a week from the mine or headframe, or shaft house [Mining Reg. s. 29(1)(b)] 2 5%
Failure to ensure a machine that has an exposed moving part that may endanger the safety of any person is fenced or guarded [Mining Reg. s. 185(2)] 2 5%
Failure to ensure notices are posted in conspicuous places at each mine or mining plant [Mining Reg. s. 4(a)(b)(c)(d)] 2 5%
Failure to prepare and review, at least annually, a written occupational health and safety policy, and develop and maintain a program to implement that policy [OHSA s. 25 (2)(j)] 2 5%

Prevention

In December 2013, the Minister of Labour asked Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer (CPO) to undertake a Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review focusing specifically on the occupational health and safety needs of the underground mining sector. The review identified several significant hazards which were studied by subject matter experts.

The review’s findings were issued on April 15, 2015, along with 18 recommendations, all accepted by the Ontario Labour Minister.

Two of the review’s 18 recommendations address worker training and a need to create a consistent modular training program. The Ministry of Labour (MOL) is currently reviewing these recommendations from an enforcement and mining regulatory viewpoint. The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD) administers the training program.

Conclusion and next steps

Ministry of Labour inspectors will continue to focus on hazards related to the safe tramming of material.

On January 1, 2017, new amendments to the mining regulation will be introduced in response to the Mining Review recommendations. The amendments will include requirements for employers to develop traffic management programs to help reduce worker injuries and deaths on the job. The programs must be developed in consultation with Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC) or worker health and safety representatives at mines.

A key to workplace health and safety in Ontario is the internal responsibility system (IRS). Workplace parties are encouraged to work together to identify and control all hazards.

Compliance help for employers

Please contact Ministry of Labour health and safety partners for more information on health and safety. For more information on the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD) modular training requirements, visit the MAESD website.

[1] Includes orders and requirements.

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.