Health and safety in the mining industry in Greater Sudbury has come a long way over the past 95 years, so much, in fact, that where fatal mining accidents were once commonplace, they are now a rarity, according to a retired electrician at Falconbridge Limited.
“Since 1929, 100 men lost their lives,” Tom Rannelli said at the 39th-annual Workers’ Memorial Day service held at the Royal Canadian Legion branch in Falconbridge on Tuesday. “That’s approximately one a year. That’s just at Falconbridge.
“What about Vale, or Inco as we know it? I would bet money it is 400, as they had five times the workforce we had at Falconbridge. It’s a big price to pay for a pound of nickel.” Rannelli said that with health and safety changes introduced in the mining industry thanks to unions and government, the situation has improved to the point where legislation and joint safety and health committees have made workplaces much safer.
“It’s not all bad,” he said. “We’ve come a long way. I don’t think we’ve had a mining fatality in the last two, three years. That’s a big thing when you think about it. It was one (fatality) a year, just at Falconbridge. One day, there will be no fatalities. At Glencore, ‘no job is worth doing if you can’t do it safely’.”