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BACKGROUNDER

Safety Blitz Targets Mine Traffic

  • Issued: July 10, 2015
  • Content last reviewed: July 2015
  • See also: Bulletin | Mining

Mining inspectors and engineers will target motor vehicles and mobile equipment hazards during a summer safety blitz at underground and surface mines across Ontario.

The increased enforcement is part of the province’s Safe At Work Ontario compliance initiative, launched in June 2008.

Mining inspectors and engineers will focus on traffic control hazards that could result in worker injury or death. Inspectors will check that employers are taking appropriate action to assess and address these hazards and protect workers. This will include checking that employers are complying with the:

Mine safety is a priority for the Ontario government which has accepted all the recommendations of a recent comprehensive review of health and safety in mines.

In addition, in the past five years, the Ministry of Labour has conducted 18 enforcement blitzes in the mining sector. These have focused on water management, safety gear, ventilation systems, explosives, ground control hazards, loading pocket system hazards, locking and tagging of equipment in hoisting plants, musculoskeletal injuries and other issues.

Background

The traffic control blitz will focus on various types of motor vehicles and mobile equipment found in underground and surface mines.

Motor vehicles include:

  • locomotives
  • haulage vehicles such as trucks and load, haul, and dump vehicles, also known as scooptrams

Mobile equipment include:

  • loaders and excavators

Examples of hazards include being struck, pinned or run over by a moving vehicle or equipment when the operator’s view is limited or obstructed.

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.

Mines are required to have traffic control policies and procedures in place to prevent worker injuries and deaths.

Good traffic control measures include:

  • ensuring worker visibility
  • having effective illumination
  • meeting legislated requirements for the width of tunnels and openings, etc. where motor vehicles are operated in underground mines
  • providing education and training on the traffic control procedures

Ontario has about 40 underground mines and hundreds of surface mines and quarries that employ about 26,000 workers. A wide variety of minerals are extracted from Ontario’s underground mines, including copper, nickel, gold and other precious metals, diamonds, salt and gypsum.

Blitz focus

Mining inspectors and engineers will visit underground and surface mines during the blitz.

In particular, they will focus on:

  • recently reopened or new mines
  • mines where previous motor vehicle and mobile equipment hazards were observed
  • 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.

Priorities

The blitz will focus on the following key priorities:

Measures and procedures: Inspectors will check that mines have proper measures and procedures in place for traffic control and equipment operation.

Worker visibility: Inspectors will check that workers are wearing head gear with retro-reflective material and outer clothing that enables them to be seen.

Effective illumination: Inspectors will check that illumination is made available when insufficient lighting exists due to the nature of the environment, equipment or operation.

Worker safe location: Inspectors will check that procedures exist to ensure equipment operators and other workers are situated at a safe location when the equipment is operated or moved by remote control.

Clearance requirements: Inspectors will check that the engineered design for underground mines meets 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 will check that workers are properly trained and supervised to prevent injuries and deaths.

Craig MacBride, Minister’s Office, 416-326-7709
William Lin, Communications Branch, 416-326-7405

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