And yet with the country’s impressive mining safety record, 75 mining workers died in Canada in 2011. As well, over the same period, there were an average 2,800 injuries annually, resulting in time off the job.
Seventy-five deaths are too many. Reducing mining accidents and fatalities to zero has to be the goal.
It won’t be easy because mining faces a daily diet of physical risks: dark tunnels, work in closed spaces and constant interaction with heavy machinery moving thousands of tons of rock and ore, sometimes on a punishing timetable dictated by Canada’s harsh weather conditions.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t do it. For the sake of every worker out there we have to.
And we have to do it for the future of mining because attracting and training the next generation of mining employees is one of this industry’s biggest challenges.
In the next ten years, according to the Mining Industry Human Resources Council, one in two workers in Canada’s mining sector will have to be replaced. During the next decade, 65% of geoscientists currently working in mining will be retiring.
The industry must find effective ways of reaching out to new workers – women, minorities, newcomers, new graduates and convince them that careers in mining are stimulating, rewarding, and safe.
That means everyone working to enhance mining safety across the entire sector. And that means sharing information and ideas.
What are the safety issues of most importance to you? What best practices have you implemented in mining safety that you feel need to be more widely shared? What problems are still out there to be solved? How can we all work to make sure that mining continues to become an even safer undertaking well into the 21st Century?
Let us know. We’re all in this together.