Sudbury smelter charges no surprise — union – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – April 1, 2015)

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

A committee of representatives from Vale Ltd. and United Steelworkers Local 6500 is working to ensure the 58 recommendations from a joint investigation into the death last year of a millwright are implemented and that history doesn’t repeat.

Mike Bond, chair of health and safety for USW Local 6500, said some progress has been made to resolve issues at the Copper Cliff Smelter Complex, where Paul Rochette, 36, was killed April 6, 2014, while working on an ore crusher.

Monday, the Ministry of Labour announced it had laid 17 charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in relation to Rochette’s death. Nine were laid against Vale Canada Ltd. and eight were laid against two supervisors, and a third supervisor who was classified as a worker at the time.

The charges against Vale relate to ensuring work was done properly, that workers were educated and trained, and that safeguards were put in place to keep pieces of machines in place.

Bond said no one who knew anything about the situation at the smelter complex last year was surprised so many charges were laid.

Three charges against supervisor Eric Labelle are related to energy generating devices not being properly engaged, locked and tagged, and failure to ensure that while work was being done on the crusher, any gravity-store energy was dissipated or contained.

Two charges against supervisor Glenn Munro are similar, as are three charges against supervisor Greg Taylor, a supervisor functioning as a worker at the time of the accident.

A second millwright, a 28-year-old man, suffered serious facial injuries in the accident in which Rochette was killed. His name has not been released.

Bond said while some recommendations have been implemented to improve safety at the smelter, “we still have a long way to go … we would expect more.”

He said Vale officials may not be as “open” to suggestions from workers or the union about how to improve safety in that area of the plant as they could be.

Many deficiencies were identified in the joint investigation, which uncovered a negative culture of safety at the smelter at that time, said Bond.

“The morale of the workers, the direction the company was going with the workers and with health and safety, it wasn’t a positive safety culture,” he said.

When tragedy struck in that environment, it created anger and tension in the workplace between employees and the company, said Bond.

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