Report will make mining safer: [Sudbury] union – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – March 1, 2012)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

For the full report: Run of “Wet Muck” Double Fatality Investigation Report by USW Local 6500

There has been a lot of talk about Jason Chenier and Jordan Fram since they were killed on the job June 8, 2011, at Stobie Mine. Wednesday morning, Mike Bond wasn’t talking about the men. He was speaking for them and their families.

Bond, the Health, Safety and Environment chair for United Steelworkers Local 6500, local president Rick Bertrand and USW lawyer Brian Shell presented findings of the union’s investigation into the men’s deaths to reporters.

“Today’s the day we’re speaking for the Frams and the Cheniers, and miners across the province. It’s a tragic day also,” said Bond, a former Creighton miner.

“I feel that, with our recommendations, we are going to make (mining) safer.” Bond has been involved in several investigations, but never one like this. “This is a one-of-a-kind report,” he said.

He and other union officials were to present the report at two membership meetings later in the day, reviewing the union’s findings and 165 recommendations to improve worker safety.

Bond said Chenier, 35, “did a marvellous job of trying to make (Stobie Mine) safer. He realized there were dangers, hazards. He took the initiative to advance his concerns to the workplace where he put double guardrails up” and he contacted supervisors. “It’s not right.”

Short of being fired or quitting, “he did everything he could do. Hats off to Jason.”

He and Fram, 26, his young shift partner, tried to fix a problem, but it was bigger than they were.
USW investigators believe Chenier was trying to free a hang-up of muck in the No. 7 ore pass above the 3000-foot level when Fram came to help him.

Fram “just saw that his partner and his coworker and his friend was in there, so he pulled in there to help him out. We think they were just getting set up to make plans to fix (the hang-up) and it came down.”

The men were very close to a crash gate that acts as a barrier to prevent ore travelling down a vertical shaft from flowing into a horizontal level.

” They were right in harm’s way,” said Bond.

They should have been 30 feet back at the controls, but they couldn’t see up into the ore pass. Chenier may have had to literally look up the ore pass to see where tons of muck was stuck.

Cameras would have helped the men view the ore shaft from a safe distance.

“It’s 2012 and we put a man on the moon, no problem. We can put cameras up. Really, there should have been cameras there.”

There are cameras in some Vale mines, he said.

His union wants quick action on three key recommendations, including a public inquiry into the Stobie deaths and a request to the assistant deputy attorney general to consider criminal charges against Vale under the Westray provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Vale is standing behind its own investigation results and said it cannot comment on allegations of criminal wrongdoing.

“Today is a tragic day, but I really feel it’s not in vain,” said Bond.

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