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Processing – Safe Work Practices at Mining Plants

Safe At Work Ontario
  • Issued: January 3, 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.

Overview

Workers can be at risk of injury or even death if hazards exist involving processing equipment in smelters, refineries and mills in mining plants.

Between 2000 and 2015, four workers died in Ontario mines as a result of incidents involving processing equipment in smelter, refinery and mills in mining plants.

Employers are responsible for protecting workers from hazards involving processing in mining plants.

Hazards can include workers:

  • working around unguarded equipment
  • being exposed to electrical hazards such as shock and burns from arc-flashes
  • being exposed to the release of stored energy from inadequate lockout and tagging procedures
  • working in close proximity to mobile equipment and material handling

These hazards can be prevented by putting measures and procedures in place to protect workers. Such measures can include:

  • proper training, as required by Section 11 of Regulations for Mines and Mining Plants
  • locking and tagging of energy sources
  • proper lifting
  • proper rigging practices
  • proper guarding
  • proper equipment maintenance
  • conducting risk assessments
  • proactive health and safety programs

Some general duties of workplace parties

Employers

Below are some examples of employers’ duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA):

  • provide information, instruction and supervision to workers to protect their health and safety, including providing information on safe work policies and procedures specific to the workplace and type of work the workers will perform [section 25(2)(a)]
  • take every reasonable precaution in the circumstances for the protection of workers [section 25(2)(h)]
  • ensure prescribed measures and procedures are carried out at the workplace [section 25(1)(c)]
  • ensure equipment, materials and protective devices required by the regulations are provided and maintained in good condition [section 25(1)(a) and (b)]
  • provide assistance to, and co-operate with, the mine's Joint Health and Safety Committee and/or a health and safety representative [section 25(2)(e)]
  • prepare and review, at least annually, a written occupational health and safety policy for the workplace, and develop and maintain a program to implement that policy [section 25(2)(j)]
  • post an OHSA copy in the workplace [section 25(2)(k)]

Supervisors

Below are some examples of supervisors’ OHSA duties:

  • ensure workers comply with the OHSA and its regulations [section 27(1)(a)]
  • ensure any equipment, protective device or clothing required by the employer is used and/or worn by workers [section 27(1)(b)]
  • advise workers of any potential or actual health or safety dangers known by the supervisor [section 27(2)(a)]
  • if prescribed, provide workers with written instructions on the measures and procedures to be taken for workers’ protection [section 27(2)(b)]
  • take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker [section 27(2)(c)]

Workers

Below are some examples of workers’ OHSA duties:

  • use or operate equipment in a safe manner [section 28(2)(b)]
  • report defects in equipment to your supervisor or employer [section 28(1)(c)]
  • work in compliance with the OHSA and its regulations [section 28(1)(a)]
  • report any known workplace hazards or OHSA violations to your supervisor or employer [section 28(1)(d)]

Workers should be aware of their OHSA rights, including the right to refuse unsafe work and the right to know about any potential hazards they may be exposed to in mines.

Protecting Workers

Employers, supervisors and trainers should encourage workers to communicate any questions or concerns they may have about processing. Supervisors or others involved in training workers should be familiar with any health and safety concerns faced by the workers.

Compliance Information

Ministry of Labour Health & Safety Contact Centre

Call toll-free 1-877-202-0008 any time to report fatalities, critical injuries, work refusals, reprisals and unsafe work practices.

For information related to sector-specific health and safety advice, products, services and training, visit the Contact Us page.

Always call 911 in an emergency.

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.