Inquest: Jury urged to look at all mines with rec’s – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – April 30, 2015)

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

The project manager of the Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review urged a coroner’s jury to consider making recommendations that will improve safety throughout all Ontario mines, not just at Vale’s Stobie Mine or at Sudbury mining operations.

Wayne DeL’Orme was the last witness to testify at the inquest into the deaths of Jordan Fram and Jason Chenier on June 8, 2011. Chenier, 35, was a supervisor for Vale and Fram, 26, was a miner. They were killed by a run of tons of muck that had been hung up in the No. 7 ore pass, let go and swamped the 3,000 level near the pass where they were working.

DeL’Orme told the three-woman, one-man jury Thursday that the role of the mining review was to look at all aspects of health and safety in underground mines and recommend ways to improve conditions.

It was prompted by a call for a full-blown mining inquiry after the deaths of the men at Stobie. A group called MINES (Mining Inquiry Needs Everyone’s Support) lobbied for a review, led by Wendy Fram, the mother of Jordan Fram. Thousands of postcards were sent to Labour minister demanding an inquiry.

Then Labour minister Yasir Naqvi ordered a review in December 2013, and its final report and recommendations were presented in Sudbury on April 14, after the report was accepted by Labour Minister Kevin Flynn.

DeL’Orme explained to the jury that the review was led by Ontario chief prevention officer George Gritziotis, aided by an advisory panel representing labour and industry.

As well as conducting consultations and accepting written submissions, the advisory panel looked at previous mining inquiries and inquest recommendations, including those from the 1995 death of Stobie miner Clifford Bastien.

Bastien was killed by a run-of-muck accident very similar to the one that killed Fram and Chenier. Coroner’s inquest jury recommendations aren’t always acted upon.

DeL’Orme said the mining review made three recommendations requiring regulatory change. One requires employers to conduct risk assessments of hazards in mines, and one hazard is water.

The inquest, which has lasted eight days, has heard from several witnesses about levels or drifts of the century-old mine that were flooded with water as high as waist-deep; plugged drain holes that didn’t allow water to be directed out of areas where people were working; and barricades erected that taken down so work could be done in those areas.

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