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BACKGROUNDER

Mining Blitz Targets Explosives

  • Issued: July 3, 2014
  • Content last reviewed: July 2014
  • See also: Bulletin | Mining

Mine safety remains a priority for the Ontario government. In the past five years, 11 enforcement blitzes have focused on safety gear, ventilation systems, loading pocket system hazards, locking and tagging of equipment in hoisting plants and other issues in the mining sector.

In July and August, Ministry of Labour mining inspectors will visit underground and surface mines as well as quarries. They will focus on hazards involving the use, handling and storage of explosives, including the transporting of explosives from a manufacturer or supplier delivery vehicle to drilled holes at a mine site.

Background

Explosives are used in the mining industry to help break ore and rock into smaller pieces so they can be easily removed for processing.

Between April 1, 2011 and March 31, 2014, ministry inspectors issued 256 orders for violations of explosives storage and handling sections under the Regulations for Mines and Mining Plants. Many of these violations could have resulted in serious injuries to workers and the public.

Examples of hazards involving explosives include:

  • Exposure to possible lightning during electrical storms when stored in a "magazine" (building or container) near an open pit mine
  • Exposure to an open flame, high heat, electricity or uncontrolled underground radio signals
  • Improper storage leading to deterioration of quality, making the explosive more volatile.

Employers and supervisors must ensure that only knowledgeable and trained workers handle explosives and extreme care should be used.

Blitz Focus

All mines that use explosives will be targeted during this blitz. In particular, it will focus on recently reopened or new mines, and mines with a poor compliance history.

Inspectors will take enforcement action, as appropriate, in response to any violations found under the Occupational Health and Safety Act or its regulations.

Mining inspectors will focus on the following key priorities:

Maintenance/Inspection of Explosives Magazines and Equipment – Inspectors will check that surface and underground explosives storage areas are located and constructed in compliance with legislated requirements. Inspectors will check that explosives magazines are inspected weekly and that inspection reports are available for viewing. Cleanliness and procedures for the disposal of packaging and other refuse produced at magazines will be reviewed. Procedures will also be reviewed for the cleaning and inspection of equipment used with explosives prior to servicing or repairs.

Explosives Inventory Methods – Inspectors will check that measures are in place, such as keeping log books, to control inventories of explosive products underground and on the surface. They will also review procedures to ensure the oldest explosives are used first. They will confirm reports include details on the quantities of explosives stored at the time of inspection.

Procedures for Safe Disposal of Damaged Explosives – Inspectors will review the employer’s written procedures for the safe disposal of damaged explosives. They will check to see if the procedures have been communicated to workers and are being adequately enforced.

Proper Handling during Transport and Loading – Inspectors will check that workers who handle explosives have been provided sufficient training. They will check that legislated precautions and procedures are effectively communicated and enforced for transporting explosives with mobile equipment or shaft “conveyances” (mine hoists).

Ministry of Labour Reporting Requirements – Inspectors will check that employers have established procedures for submitting notices to the ministry any defective explosives or careless handling of material. Inspectors will also check that the required "Notice of Use or Storage of Explosives" is being appropriately submitted by the employer to the ministry.

Craig MacBride, Minister's Office, 416-326-7709
Bruce Skeaff, Communications Branch, 416-326-7405

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