Mining Safety Blitz Aims To Clear The Air

Mining Safety

Ontario Ministry of Labour inspectors will launch a safety blitz in underground mines across the provinces focusing on new ventilation and air quality rules in January 2013.

The issue is the operation of diesel equipment in underground mines and the long term health effects of exhaust with new regulations following a trend to lower levels C02 being permissible and keeping Ontario at the cutting edge of mining standards.

“New regulations came into effect Jan. 2012 and so we’re going to check compliance,” said Glenn Staskus, a provincial mining specialist in the MOL mining program.

The MOL is concerned with “low ventilation volumes resulting from the inadequate supply and maintenance of mechanical ventilation systems.”

About 35 underground mines will be targeted over January and February.

Inspectors will also check that diesel equipment used for underground transportation of workers, materials and blasting of rock is being maintained as prescribed.

“The new regulations lower the exposure limits for levels for carbon monoxide and total carbon particulate,” he said. “And part of the change requires developing a testing measure protocol in conjunction with each Health and Safety Committee at each mine.”

Inspectors will be looking to see that testing protocols are in place, that they’ve been implemented after discussions with Health and Safety representatives and that both the tail pipe emissions and ambient air quality have been tested and tracked to ensure they conform to minimum standards.

While particulate traps aren’t required on diesel powered mining equipment, tail pipe emission must be no more than 600 ppm by volume of carbon monoxide down dramatically from the previous standard of 1,500 ppm.

The rules require “regular testing” of tail pipe emissions which is defined as “in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations” said Staskus adding that ambient air must be tested and recorded for both carbon and dust.

In areas where diesel equipment is in operation, air flow must be at least 0.06 cubic metres per second for each kilowatt of power the machinery generates.

“They also have to test ambient air to ensure that total carbon is no more than 0.4 milligrams per cubic metre of air,” he said.

The latter is a new regulation in addition to air-dust levels which must also conform to standards.

“There’s a long term concern about exposure to diesel exhaust so they’ve added carbon levels too,” he said.

Inspectors will blitz underground mining workplaces across Ontario.

They will check that workplace parties are complying with recent amendments to diesel provisions of the Regulation for Mines and Mining Plants (R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 854) under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

Priority Areas (Source MOL)

Inspectors will focus on the following key priorities:

  1. Committee Consultation: Inspectors will check that employers have developed and implemented testing measures and procedures for diesel equipment, in consultation with the Joint Health and Safety Committee or health and safety representative. Section 183.2(1.1)
  1. Diesel Equipment:  Inspectors will check that equipment used for underground transportation of workers and materials is being regularly tested to meet the required limit for carbon monoxide emissions.182.(5)
  1. Workplace Air Sampling: Inspectors will check that employers are regularly testing the air in underground mines to ensure exposure to toxic airborne substances do not exceed the prescribed limits. Section 183.1(5).

Link to Regulation 854 for Mines and Mining Plants

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