Winter is a time of snow boarding, ice fishing, and hockey.
For surface mine workers, including gravel pits, quarries and strip-mines, it’s also about job safety.
Cold, gusty winds and heavy snow can create treacherous conditions.
In order to protect employees, it’s important for employers to take preventive steps to winterize their workplace.
If they don’t, they could face harsh consequences by violating Regulation 854 of the Occupational Health & Safety Act.
If equipment or travel ways are poorly maintained resulting in a death, a corporation, when convicted, would receive a maximum $500,000 penalty and an individual, such as a supervisor, could be fined $25,000 and may be imprisoned for up to a year.
To avoid those outcomes, Ontario Ministry of Labour Mining Specialist, Glenn Staskus, provides valuable insider information by listing areas MOL safety inspectors evaluate when visiting winter work sites. They are important reminders that sometimes the best way to prevent accidents is to go back to the basics. Here are a few great tips from the people who enforce the rules…
- Travel Routes including access to buildings, repair spaces & stairs – Are they clear of snow and debris? Can workers move freely without slipping or falling? Can equipment be moved from point A to B safely without trouble?
- Personal Protective Equipment – As a result of shorter daylight hours, do workers have adequate reflective striping on clothing and hard hats, so they can be seen between sunset and sunrise? Are they wearing proper work gloves, glasses, ear plugs, headgear, footwear and uniforms to handle extreme cold and changing weather conditions for long periods of time?
- Workplace Lighting – Is there effective illumination for surface tasks including areas where workers are required to travel and the nature of the equipment or operation may create a hazard due to insufficient lighting?
- Mining Equipment – Is it in good shape to deal with unpredictable winter weather? Do employers conduct consistent equipment safety checks?
- Material Stockpiles – Are they stable? Are there procedures in place for sampling and removing stockpile material in a safe manner?
- Safety Policy – Is there one in place which is reviewed annually and is there a program to implement it?
- Joint Health & Safety Committee Or Representative – Are either present on the job site? If not, they are required to be.
By taking care of these areas before they become problems, employers will avoid penalties, but more importantly, they’ll have a safe, healthy and productive winter work environment.