OMA NEWS RELEASE: Let’s get going with Ontario safety review

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 Minister of Labour Yasir Naqvi has announced the launch of a comprehensive mining safety review to further improve the health and well-being of mineral industry employees. Starting in 2014, Chief Prevention Officer George Gritziotis will lead an advisory panel of industry, labour and health and safety representatives to engage in a collaborative evidence-based review.

“This collaborative safety review follows up on recommendations from the Dean expert panel,” said Ontario Mining Association President Chris Hodgson. “Mining is one of the safest industries in the province and it has demonstrated steady and significant improvement in its safety performance for decades. This review can help sustain that improvement and move the industry closer to its goal of zero harm while helping to prepare for future growth and innovations.”

“Improving mine safety and making sure our miners go home to their families at the end of their shift is what this mining review is all about,” said Mr. Naqvi. “I know that all of our partners share this goal and recognize that it is time for a thorough, evidence-based review of mining safety across the province that will get meaningful results for miners and their families.”

“Ensuring the safety of Ontario’s 27,000 mine workers is certainly one of my top priorities,” said Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle. “I applaud the strong effort that our government has made to ensure that one of Ontario’s safest industries remains that way.”

Specific areas being reviewed by the panel will include exploring technological advances such as new bolting and reinforcement techniques to prevent rock bursts; assessing current health and safety regulations and enforcement mechanisms to compare their effectiveness with regulations in other jurisdictions; and examining the education and training of employers, supervisors, and workers on injury prevention to identify skills shortages and gaps in qualified health- and safety-related expertise.

Other subjects to be addressed include ensuring appropriate ground stability and water management practices are in place and examining the use of warning systems and barricades. Ontario’s mining industry is one of the safest mining jurisdictions in the world. The sector’s safety performance outpaces many other sectors.

Since the Royal Commission Reports of Ham in 1976 and Burkett in 1981, Ontario’s mining sector has increased its focus on ensuring workers receive the best training available. According to an economic study by the University of Toronto – Mining: Dynamic and Dependable for Ontario’s Future – the mining industry in this province invests $1,800 per employee annually in training and health and safety initiatives.

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 until it reaches zero harm. Collective efforts on many fronts involving employers, workers, unions, safety agencies, such as Workplace Safety North and the Prevention Council, and government are being taken to reach that goal. This safety review is a welcome and additional measure to help the industry collectively achieve that goal.

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