Mine safety worth celebrating – by Wayne Snider (Timmins Daily Press – March 28, 2014)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Mining has a history of being a profession with risks for workers. Much has changed during a century of mining in Timmins. Progress continues to be made to this day, with technology being applied in new and different ways to ensure the safety of the industry’s most valuable resource: Its workers.

But there is more to safety than high-tech solutions. Sometimes it is just passing down a culture of common sense. Stephane Whissel attributes his impressive mine safety record to his upbringing and lessons his father Maurice taught him.

“It’s something that comes with the culture (in which) I was raised,” Whissel explained prior to the Porcupine Northeastern Ontario Mine Safety Group’s annual awards dinner at the Porcupine Dante Club Thursday night. “See, my father was also in mining and I started with him at a young age and I would go out with him.

“He was working out on diamond drills and I would go out in the bush with him. He would show me the proper way of working and going home safe.”

Whissel, a 42-year-old front-line supervisor with Lake Shore Gold in Timmins started in the industry when he was 18. He was among 133 supervisors honoured during Thursday’s event.

The mining industry is very eager to celebrate achievements in safety. Part of the reason is that in developed countries like Canada, where there is a broader range of employment opportunities, people can choose to avoid working in unsafe conditions.

The awards recognize mining supervisors and local companies who have reached significant milestones in operating without time lost to injury.

The overriding sentiment expressed at the annual event was that no mineral is as valuable as the people who mine them.

Some may be tempted to dismiss this sentiment as a load of waste rock coming from corporate executives, but people need to remember mining is facing of a major labour shortage on the horizon because many of the baby-boomers who currently work in the industry are on the verge of retiring and there is not a whole slew of people waiting to replace them. And let’s not forget this region is notoriously short of skilled trades workers.

So, there is nothing to be gained from cutting corners, endangering workers and making the industry less appealing overall to badly needed, prospective newcomers.

Mining safety is worth celebrating. Hard hat’s off to all of this years award winners.

For the original version of this article, click here: http://www.timminspress.com/2014/03/28/mine-safety-worth-celebrating

 

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