Ontario Mining Industry Safety Performance Update

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

For the first half of 2008, the Ontario mining industry´s safety performance was holding steady keeping the sector among the three safest industries in Ontario.  For the first six months of 2008, the mining industry had a lost time injury rate of 0.6 per 200,000 hours worked, which is the same as the first six months of 2007.  The total medical injury frequency for the first six months of 2008, at 7.4 per 200,000 hours worked, is up slightly from the rate of 6.7 for the January to June 2007 period.  The severity of injuries remains virtually the same at 16 days for the first half of 2008, compared with 15 days for the first half of 2007.

According to numbers from the Mines and Aggregates Safety and Health Association (MASHA), the mining sector´s safety prevention organization, and similar organizations representing other industries, mining´s safety record would not quite match, but be in line with, the top performing electrical and education sectors.  Mining´s safety performance, however, would rank ahead of sectors such as manufacturing, services, forestry, construction, health care, municipal workers, farming and transportation.   

The Ontario mining industry´s lost time injury rate for 2007 was 0.8 per 200,000 hours worked.  The industry has been steadily improving over the decades on this incident frequency, which stood at 4.7 in 1985.  Credit for these stronger safety performances resides on the shoulders of every individual who works in the industry.  These statistics are moving in the right direction because of the personal diligence on the safety front and concern for oneself and his and her colleagues.  There are a number of initiatives and institutions supporting these gains.

The Ontario Mining Association started a serious incident program in 1999 and a program of Internal Responsible System (IRS) audits began in 2000.  Inspections and programs from the Ministry of Labour, regulatory changes and improvements to the Common Core skills training program have enhanced working environments.  Contributions from the industry´s sectoral safety group, MASHA, along with suggestions from unions have also played a strong role in these gains.

Another major factor in the continued movement in the right direction of safety records is investment.  Ontario´s mining industry invests more than $2,200 per employee annually in safety training.  Mine workers in Ontario are trained better, both before they start working and throughout their careers than those employed in many other sectors of the economy.  Overall, employees in the Ontario mining industry are safe, highly skilled, highly paid and highly productive.  They all mesh together.     

While the safety performance of Ontario´s mining industry day-in and day-out is certainly worthy of recognition, no one in the industry would consider resting on their laurels.  Collective efforts on many fronts to get these various incident statistics to zero are ongoing throughout the industry.