Mine death reinforces importance of review – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – July 14, 2014)

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

The death of another employee at an Ontario mining company Thursday — the seventh this year — further illustrates the importance of the comprehensive Mining Health Safety and Prevention Review, says a Sudbury union leader.

A 38-year-old man who was using a loading machine to haul rocks died after being pinned under a rock about 2,700 feet below surface at North American Palladium’s Lac des Iles Mine north of Thunder Bay.

Myles Sullivan, area coordinator of United Steelworkers, said the man was a USW member and he expressed the union’s sorrow at his death, which is being investigated by the Ministry of Labour.

Sullivan said he remains convinced the mining review, started at the beginning of this year, will result in recommendations that will make mining safer for those who work in the industry, particularly if it moves into a second phase and examines safety at surface plants.

The review was established after strong lobby efforts from United Steelworkers and a citizens’ group called MINES (Mining Inquiring Needs Everyone’s Support), struck after the deaths of three workers at Vale mines in Sudbury. Both the union and MINES wanted a full-blown inquiry, similar to the one into the collapse of Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake that killed two people.

They wanted the inquiry to examine the June 8, 2011 deaths of Jason Chenier and Jordan Fram at Stobie Mine, the Jan. 29, 2012 death of Stephen Perry at Coleman Mine and to overhaul mine safety.

Then Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi opted for a review led by Chief Prevention Officer George Gritziotis, a one-year process examining underground mine operations.

This year alone there have been three deaths at mine surface plants in Ontario.

Sudbury millwright Paul Rochette, 36, was killed April 6 when the pin on a crusher he was working on at Vale’s Copper Cliff Smelter Complex flew off and struck him.

June 25, a 26-year-old Rouyn, Quebec man died of injuries after an accident at Holt Mine near Matheson when he was on his way out of the mine on a bulldozer and a tree fell on the machine.

That same day, a second man was pronounced dead at Carmeuse Lime Quarry in Flamborough near Hamilton, although it wasn’t clear if it was due to medical or traumatic causes.

“We can’t keep accepting that mining’s a dangerous job, it’s a dangerous environment, fatalities happen and that’s part of doing business,” said Sullivan.

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