Ontario’s mining sector safety performance continued to improve in 2010

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.

Ontario’s mining industry continues to show steady progress in improving its safety performance.  According to provisional statistics released recently, Ontario’s mining sector’s lost time injury rate was 0.5 per 200,000 hours worked in 2010, compared with 0.6 in 2009.  This shows a 17% improvement and continued advancement in the goal of creating safer workplaces.

In 2010, the total employee hours worked in the mining industry was about 28.6 million by 16,200 employees.  The total medical aid frequency for mining in 2010 was 4.5 per 200,000 hours worked, compared with 5.8 in 2009 – a 22% improvement.

A more dramatic improvement was made by the industry in reducing the severity of incidents.  In 2010, lost work days per incident were 12, compared with 74 days in 2009 – an 84% improvement.

In 2009, mining was the second safest industry in Ontario behind education.  The average lost time injury rate for all sectors in 2009 was 1.3.  Mining was significantly better than the average and safer than sectors such as the electrical industry, pulp and paper, forestry, health care, construction, agriculture and transportation.

While mining safety representatives will no doubt be interested in preliminary safety statistics for 2010 from these other sectors, they will remain focused on the priorities in their own operations.

Over the past 20 years, Ontario’s mining sector has improved its lost time injury rate by 91% and has improved its total medical aid frequency by 65%.  The leadership being shown involving employers, unions and government as partners is working to improve safety.

Mining safety statistics are moving in the right direction because of personal diligence and concern for one’s self and one’s colleagues.  There are a number of initiatives and institutions supporting this progress.  OMA programs, the Internal Responsibility System, inspections and programs from the Ministry of Labour, regulatory changes and adjustments to Common Core skills training along with the role of the sectoral safety group Workplace Safety North and unions have played strong parts in these gains.

Overall, employees in the Ontario mining industry are safe, highly skilled, highly paid and highly productive.  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 it good enough.  Collective efforts on many fronts to get these various incident statistics to zero are ongoing throughout the industry.   OMA members are driving to reach a zero lost time frequency by 2015.

Quick Facts

Since 1941, the John T. Ryan Safety Trophies have been symbolic of outstanding safety performances in Canada’s mining industry. 

These awards are highly coveted.  The safest mines in the country in 2010 will be recognized in May at the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum conference in Montreal. 

In 2006, 2007 and 2008, Vale’s Copper Cliff North Mine in Sudbury pulled off a rare feat with a hat trick in winning the John T. Ryan Trophy as the safest metal mine in Canada three consecutive years.