Stop-work orders common at mine sites – by Ashley Fitzpatrick (St. John’s Telegram – November 04, 2013) (Part 1 of 4)

Safety officers also issued 696 safety directives to IOC and Wabush Mines in last year

Three years on with no occupational health and safety (OHS) officers in Labrador, and the two positions available remain unfilled. Not that Labrador worksites require close supervision, because major employers don’t often violate the province’s OHS regulations.

Except that they have — repeatedly.

Two of the largest employers in the province are in Labrador West — the iron ore mines at Wabush and Labrador City. The Wabush mine is operated by Cliffs Natural Resources and the Labrador City mine is operated by the Iron Ore Co. of Canada (IOC).

According to ServiceNL, the mines have collectively been given 696 directives from visiting provincial government OHS officers in the last year, from Oct. 1, 2012 to Sept. 30, 2013.

Supervisors at the mine in Wabush were handed 235 directives. The Labrador City mine received 461. There were also regular stop-work orders at both sites.

According to the government’s own descriptions, these orders are issued when “work is being carried out in a way that the conditions at the workplace pose an immediate risk to the health and safety of workers.”

They can also be issued if it is felt the work is a risk to the public.

With stop work orders, employers must immediately stop work and leave the area until the safety issue is dealt with. In the last year, Wabush Mines received 11, while IOC was issued 17.

Heather Bruce-Veitch, IOC’s director for external relations out of Labrador West, said the company has shown improvement in “key performance indicators related to safety” in the same time period.

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