Mine safety group promises public meetings – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – February 20, 2014)

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

The first two meetings of the Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review Advisory Group were held in private, but there will be ample opportunity for people to have their say about how to improve mine safety, says the head of the review.

George Gritziotis, Ontario’s chief prevention officer, said public consultations will be held in six mining communities — including Sudbury — and people can make submissions at those meetings, online, by fax and by mail.

Gritziotis was chosen by Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi to lead the group guiding a comprehensive mining safety review to be completed within a year.

It held its second meeting in Sudbury on Wednesday, at which members mapped how public consultation will be conducted, Gritziotis told reporters during the noon break of the group. “Our sense is we’re going to get nuggets out of these consultations that will help frame some of the work we’re doing going forward,” he said.

A review like this one has never been conducted, said Gritziotis, so getting the group’s “house in order” before it begins speaking publicly was necessary, he said.

Three preliminary priorities have been identified and the group “started digging deep” Wednesday on those areas so it can have “some deliverables” to present to Naqvi at the end of June.

They are the capacity of the mining sector to address health and safety needs in terms of enforcement and training, the impact of technology on health and safety, and the internal responsibility system.

“At the end of the day, when somebody says, ‘What do we want out of this?’ ultimately it’s zero fatalities and injuries in the workplace. That’s what we’re pushing for,” he said.

Advisory group members will lead several sub-groups on topics being studied in the review, with those groups reporting back to the main group.

Gritziotis will present an interim report to Naqvi at the end of June and will write a final report by year’s end with the assistance of advisory group members.

Consultation will come in two forms, said Gritziotis. Representatives from institutions, organizations and experts in health and safety will share their expertise. People who work on the front lines will also share their experiences and advice.

He intends to take some of what’s learned about mining in this review and apply it to other sectors such as manufacturing and construction where on-the-job risks are high.
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