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Safe Mining in Underground Mines

Safe At Work Ontario
  • Issued: October 29, 2012
  • Content last reviewed: October 2012
  • See also: Mining | Bulletin

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.

Underground ore pass & mine shaft loading pocket systems

Over the past decade, a number of incidents involving underground ore transfer systems have resulted in injuries to workers and others in mining workplaces.

The biggest hazards involve two particular ore transfer systems: underground ore passes and mine shaft loading pockets.

In Ontario, more than 18,000 people work in the mining sector at 39 active underground mines.

These workers are potentially at risk from underground incidents involving runs of muck (uncontrolled flow of blasted rock).

Employers are responsible for controlling hazards in the workplace. These hazards may involve underground ore transfer systems.

Employers, supervisors and workers have a number of duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Regulations for Mines and Mining Plants.

Some of the general duties include:

Employers

  • providing information, instruction and supervision to workers, including on hazards of underground ore passes and mine shaft loading pockets
  • taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers, including precautions to protect workers from hazards involving ore passes and loading pockets
  • providing the required equipment, materials and protective devices, and ensure these are used and maintained properly
  • reporting injuries to the Ministry of Labour, trade union (if any) and the workplace's Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) or health and safety representative (HSR)

Supervisors

  • taking every reasonable precaution in the circumstances to protect workers, including precautions to protect workers from hazards involving ore passes and loading pockets
  • ensuring workers comply with the OHSA and the mining regulation
  • ensuring workers use any equipment, protective devices or clothing required by the employer
  • advising workers of any potential or actual health and safety dangers that the supervisor knows about

Workers

  • reporting to your supervisor or employer any hazards of which you are aware, including those related to ore passes and loading pocket systems, as well as any violations of the OHSA and its regulations
  • working in compliance with the OHSA and its regulations
  • using the equipment, protective devices or clothing required by your employer

Underground ore transfer system

Figure 1: Scoop tram emptying its load into an ore pass

Scoop tram emptying its load into an Ore Pass

Figure 2: Loading pocket emptying its load into a conveyance (skip)

Loading pocket emptying its load into a conveyance (skip)

*Courtesy of the Museum of Civilisation

Compliance information

Toll–free number

Call 1–877–202–0008 any time to report critical injuries, fatalities or work refusals. Call 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday for general inquiries about workplace health and safety. 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.