Safety News You Can Use

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A three-year $400,000 study, Mining Mental Health, has kicked off, with the goal of developing strategies to promote positive mental health for workers at the Ontario location of Vale, a mining company.

Vale has partnered with the United Steelworkers (USW) and the Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health (CROSH) at Laurentian University to complete the study.

Information for the study will be collected from worker surveys. A CROSH research team will work with the Vale/USW Joint Occupational Health Committee (JOHC) on the project.

To learn more, click here.

Feedback Sought on Standards for Vape and Vapour Products

The Standards Council of Canada (SCC) is looking for feedback on the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) development of standards for vape and vapour products.

Vape or vapour products includes devices such as electronic cigarettes and e-cigars. According to the SCC, the standardization will “increase the safety of users and surrounding persons, by setting safety and quality requirements of the devices, consumables and emissions and by improving consumer information.”

Feedback is requested by September 18, 2015.

Click here for more details.

Transportation Department Charged in Worker Death

A department of transportation and works was recently charged as the result of a worker death in July 2013.

The worker, who was working with a paint crew, was hit and killed by a pickup truck on a highway.  The Occupational Health and Safety Act charges include failure to provide a safe workplace, instruction, supervision and effective traffic control.

The case will head to court on September 21, 2015.

Learn more here.

 

Safety News You Can Use

safetynews

Safety for Mining Workers to Increase

Underground mine workers in Ontario should be healthier and safer with Ontario accepting and acting on all 18 consensus recommendations from the final report of the Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Advisory Group.

Among those recommendations are the requiring of employers to have formal water management programs to reduce hazards related to excess water where miners are located, as well as enhancing ground control protection to track and monitor seismic activity.

Read more here.

Inspection Blitzes to Continue

The Ontario Ministry of Labour continues to coordinate enforcement blitzes and initiatives for the Occupational Health and Safety Program and the Employment Standards Program.  This includes provincial blitzes, which are province-wide and sector-specific. Regional initiatives are smaller-scale enforcement programs.

Blitzes happening over the next several months will focus on areas such as precarious employment, struck by hazards, temporary foreign workers, new and young workers, and trenching hazards.

For the complete schedule of blitzes and initiatives, click here.

Ontario Investing in Workers

Ontario is investing $55 million in apprenticeship programs to help train workers to become tradespeople. Funding will be provided to two apprenticeship programs: the Apprenticeship Enhancement Fund, which will receive $23 million over a two-year span, and the Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program, which will receive $13 million during that time.

Colleges and other training organizations will receive $19 million over three years.

For more details, click here.

Industry Spotlight: Mining

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News of mining industry tragedy has been making headlines all over the world. A Quebec man recently died following a June 25th mining accident, and the May incident at Sudbury’s Lockerby Mine resulted in two deaths. Ontario officials are conducting thorough health and safety reviews in both cases. In response to the Lockerby situation, employees participated in a safety reorientation intended to convey the company’s commitment to providing a safe working environment. The Ministry of Labour is leading the investigation into the Lockerby deaths, and has requested training records, a shift lineup, level plans, shifter log books, seismicity records, and ground control inspection reports.

The mining capital of the world, Canada’s long term prosperity and employment landscape depend heavily on the more than 60 minerals and metals produced there. A government report released late last month revealed that  five new energy and mining projects potentially coming to New Brunswick could transform the province, generating $8.6 billion and thousands of new jobs. A thorough investigation and subsequent strengthening of workplace safety regulations will help stop repeat violators and protect workers so that the mining industry can continue to flourish.

The second annual Health and Safety Excellence in Mining conference is taking place July 23rd & 24th in downtown Toronto. Learn from senior-level health and safety experts how to create an observation-based, proactive safety program that will significantly reduce incident rates and maintain compliance while advancing safety management goals.

Compliance Talk: Lock Out/ Tag Out

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To keep workers safe, it’s important that electronically powered equipment and circuits are de-energized before mechanical work is done.

OHSA R.R.O. 1990 Regulation 854, s. 159 (3) specifically requires that precautions to guard workers against injury by moving or energized parts are taken before maintenance, repair or adjustment work is performed on a machine that is energized.

To help comply with these regulations and ultimately prevent accidents, we suggest miners take the following steps prior to performing electrical work.

1. Determine the location of the energy source for the circuit to be worked on.

2. Carefully de-energize the circuit.

3. Each employee working on the circuit should place his/her own lock and tag on the disconnecting device.

4. Test circuit to be worked on for voltage to ensure no electricity is present.

5. Ground all the phase conductors to the equipment grounding conductor with a jumper.

Learn more at Seton’s Mine Talk Newsletter!

How To Winterize Your Surface Mining Job Site

How To Winterize Your Surface Mining Job Site

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.

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

http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/regs/english/elaws_regs_900854_e.htm

Mining: Key Responsibilities

Seton Canada

According to The Ministry of Labour, other dangerous mining incidents have stemmed from a lack of required written procedures to protect workers, including “poor communication of known hazards, lack of identifying unsafe areas, lack of warning signs and any additional information needed to protect workers.”

Mining Safety Blitzes

Mining Safety Blitz

Dwayne Plamondon of Workplace Safety North believes there is a special bond among miners.

“It’s like a family underground,” he said.

And to help keep this family safe, for the past six weeks Ontario mining inspectors have been conducting safety blitzes and checking on two specific systems used to transfer ore inside underground mines.

The systems are the:

  • “Ore pass” (vertical or inclined passage used for the downward transfer of ore)
  • “Loading pocket” (chamber excavated in the rock at the base of an ore pass where rock is stored)

According to the Ministry of Labour these are the most hazardous of any ore transfer system.

The safety blitzes “are designed to raise awareness and increase compliance with health and safety legislation.”

While even a single dangerous incident is one too many, the fact is that Ontario’s mining safety record is good, says Jerry Wedzicha, an electrical-mechanical specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Labour in Sudbury.

“Underground, there’s a network of systems for moving materials from the rock face,” Wedzicha said. “Usually it’s sent to a loading pocket which is a vertical hole from one level to another and then there’s a gate which is opened to allow the material to fall by gravity to a conveyor which then takes it up and out and away (usually to the mill for processing).”

The ore pass is downward sloping passage where the blasted or extracted face material falls to the loading pocket, he said.

“(Both) can get jammed with material so sometimes they put a little water on it to loosen to flow,” he said. “But too much water and it all becomes loose and flows like liquid and you have an avalanche which is uncontrolled.”

This is called a “run-of-muck” incident and accounted for 10% of mine fatalities from 1970 to 2012 according to Ministry of Labour statistics.

One of the more recent “run-of-muck” incidents incurred in 2011.

It’s important for there to be good drainage in these two areas so that water doesn’t accumulate and cause an avalanche or run of muck. It’s also important for operators in the area controlling the gate at the loading pocket to not only protected from the material but also to have an escape path should things go wrong.

“Also if anyone is working in the bottom of the loading pocket, mucking out the debris and fine material, all work has to stop because you are putting them at risk,” he said.

“Things like signage are important and communication is also important,” said Plamondon of Workplace Safety. “At the start of every shift there should be a huddle with the supervisor and the workers to go over what is going on during their shift so they are aware and what happened in the last shift. They always start with a discussion around Health and Safety. There’s also a meeting at the end of the shift to report back so there next shift coming in knows of any issues.”

He said there are different protocols used by mines such SAFE:

See It
Assess It
Fix It
Evaluate it

“They all work if they are followed,” he said.

 

Mining Safety Blitzes

Mining Safety Blitz

Dwayne Plamondon of Workplace Safety North believes there is a special bond among miners.

“It’s like a family underground,” he said.

And to help keep this family safe, for the past six weeks Ontario mining inspectors have been conducting safety blitzes and checking on two specific systems used to transfer ore inside underground mines.

The systems are the:

  • “Ore pass” (vertical or inclined passage used for the downward transfer of ore)
  • “Loading pocket” (chamber excavated in the rock at the base of an ore pass where rock is stored)

According to the Ministry of Labour these are the most hazardous of any ore transfer system.

The safety blitzes “are designed to raise awareness and increase compliance with health and safety legislation.”

While even a single dangerous incident is one too many, the fact is that Ontario’s mining safety record is good, says Jerry Wedzicha, an electrical-mechanical specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Labour in Sudbury.

“Underground, there’s a network of systems for moving materials from the rock face,” Wedzicha said. “Usually it’s sent to a loading pocket which is a vertical hole from one level to another and then there’s a gate which is opened to allow the material to fall by gravity to a conveyor which then takes it up and out and away (usually to the mill for processing).”

The ore pass is downward sloping passage where the blasted or extracted face material falls to the loading pocket, he said.

“(Both) can get jammed with material so sometimes they put a little water on it to loosen to flow,” he said. “But too much water and it all becomes loose and flows like liquid and you have an avalanche which is uncontrolled.”

This is called a “run-of-muck” incident and accounted for 10% of mine fatalities from 1970 to 2012 according to Ministry of Labour statistics.

One of the more recent “run-of-muck” incidents incurred in 2011.

It’s important for there to be good drainage in these two areas so that water doesn’t accumulate and cause an avalanche or run of muck. It’s also important for operators in the area controlling the gate at the loading pocket to not only protected from the material but also to have an escape path should things go wrong.

“Also if anyone is working in the bottom of the loading pocket, mucking out the debris and fine material, all work has to stop because you are putting them at risk,” he said.

“Things like signage are important and communication is also important,” said Plamondon of Workplace Safety. “At the start of every shift there should be a huddle with the supervisor and the workers to go over what is going on during their shift so they are aware and what happened in the last shift. They always start with a discussion around Health and Safety. There’s also a meeting at the end of the shift to report back so there next shift coming in knows of any issues.”

He said there are different protocols used by mines such SAFE:

See It
Assess It
Fix It
Evaluate it

“They all work if they are followed,” he said.

 

Continuing Conversation Crucial to Mine Safety

At AREVA Resources Canada Inc’s McClean Lake mine, lunch is served up every day with a healthy side of safety.

That’s because a traffic light has been installed by the cafeteria.

Green means it was an accident free day and all is good. Yellow means a near miss happened. Red means there’s been an incident perhaps requiring first aid, even if it’s just a cut finger. Red also applies to more significant incidents including serious injuries, environmental or radiation events.

“We like to see green,” said Mary Lo, Safety Specialist at AREVA.

The McClean Lake plant is among the world’s most technologically advanced mine and mill in northern Saskatchewan and produces 3,000 metric tons of high grade uranium annually although the mill is in care and maintenance mode as they are not currently mining. While their workforce fluctuates, they have about 350 people including employees and contractors, split into two shifts of 175 on site at any given time.

Mining SafetyThe traffic light concept really works, Lo believes, because it’s in a location where everyone of the employees will visit at least once a day and it keeps the conversation about safety at the top of the mind.

“I think that’s one of our biggest challenges in safety,  that is keeping the communication going. It’s hard especially at McClean Lake because it’s a fly-in location, where we run flights up with incoming shifts and bring back the outgoing shifts almost every day. Employees live on site but not everyone is there all at the same time.”

Working at a mine poses unique safety challenges and there are many stakeholders we communicate and liaise with as she has seen over the last nine years she’s been employed with AREVA.

“We have approximately 15 to 20 stakeholders in safety including employees, communities, federal inspectors, provincial inspectors, the union and they each have their point of view and requirements We need to address everyone’s concerns adequately so effective communication is critical.” she said.

“Technology has changed things too,” she said noting the mine is an open pit with heavy equipment. “All our cabs are filtered and, of course, ergonomically designed not just for comfort but to avoid strain on the operator.”

Automation also means requiring fewer people on the ground and therefore less likely to come in contact with hazards.

“We also installed computer terminals around the plant so everyone has access,” she said. “They’re all connected to the company intranet so that way if employees  have any questions about any process or procedure they can look it up and we use them for orientation. Employees can also access the computers for up to date safety notices, and safety incidents.

Keeping ahead of best practices in the industry is another task, she said, and so her team also attends seminars and conferences and reads materials in reports and magazines to ensure they’re on the leading edge. In addition, they are also a member of the Saskatchewan Mining Association which shares best practices, hosts various safety and health presentations and allows for networking in the mining industry. In fact, the traffic light innovation came about after her health and safety team leader learned about it as a best practice from another company.

McClean Lake also has a safety day shutdown each year which runs over two days to reach out to all shifts and talk about safety and mining operations, as well as health, environmental and radiation protection issues.

“We call it Safety Day and we shut down the entire mill operations all day and gather everyone and various groups such as the union, the OHC, the EH&S group make a presentation,” she said. “Employees can also present and last year one of our electricians made their own presentation.”

Still, she said, no matter how good the program it won’t work unless the people it’s intended to protect embrace it.

“Without employee engagement it’s useless,” she said. “It’s the people who make it work.”

When the work cycle becomes mundane and routine, she said, attention levels can drop and that’s where every workplace safety program has to focus, to ensure that safety is always top of mind.