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Sudbury Mining Solutions

Skills & Knowledge

New state-of-art training facility opens doors

November 6, 2017
by Norm Tollinsky
In: Skills & Knowledge

Workplace Safety North and Ontario Mine Rescue partner up in Sudbury

Mine rescue volunteers from Sudbury area mines take a refresher course on disassembling and sanitizing their emergency breathing apparatus.

Workplace Safety North and Ontario Mine Rescue have joined forces to provide mine rescue volunteers and miners requiring safety training with a state-of-the-art facility in downtown Sudbury.

Accustomed until now to meeting in hotel basements and borrowed space, miners are now able to learn in bright training rooms featuring wide screen overhead monitors, crank-up desks with plug-ins for phones and laptops, whiteboard walls, individual temperature controls, guest WiFi and soundproof dividers. During breaks, trainees can grab a coffee or a hot lunch catered by Meals on Wheels in a kitchen and lunchroom down the hall.

“Two years ago when we first came to take a look at this building, the former Sudbury headquarters for Canadian Blood Services, we resolved to build something excellent that would serve not only our needs, but the needs of the community,” said Mike Parent, director of mining for Workplace Safety North.

The intention is to loan or rent boardroom or training room space to community organizations and work with other safety organizations to use the facility.

By next year, Workplace Safety North plans to begin offering synchronous training for miners across Northern Ontario using videoconferencing technology.

“Rather than having to wait until there are 10 people ready to take a course in a particular location, we will be able to provide a class for two people in Musselwhite, two people at the Island Gold Mine near Wawa, and a few people in southern Ontario with the presenter here in Sudbury,” said Parent. “We expect to be able to pilot this kind of training in a year from now so we can reach people in remote areas.”

Using videoconferencing technology will also be more cost effective.

“In Red Lake, for example, we had three people who were ready for legislated required training,” said Parent. “We went ahead and assisted them (by sending a trainer there), but as a not-for-profit, it cost us a lot of money. We did it because it was the right thing to do, but we need to look at how to solve these challenges in a more sustainable way.”

Shawn Rideout, chief mine rescue officer, Ontario Mine Rescue, left, and Mike Parent, director of mining, Workplace Safety North, in front of the downtown Sudbury location they share.

Ontario Mine Rescue, which shares the space with Workplace Safety North, uses the facility as the Sudbury Mine Rescue Station, and as the main provincial warehouse for mine rescue supplies and equipment.

Prior to moving downtown to its current location, supplies and equipment were stored in three sea can containers, and training was conducted in improvised facilities.

“It was a mess,” said Shawn Rideout, chief mine rescue officer. “It was challenging trying to find something. Having everything in one facility is easy. If the guys in Red Lake need a piece of equipment, we can package it up and have it to them overnight.”

The building even has a backup generator that allows mine rescue staff in Sudbury to pump medical grade oxygen for emergency breathing apparatuses during power outages.

The provincial warehouse serves mine rescue stations in Red Lake, Thunder Bay, Wawa, Timmins, Kirkland Lake, Onaping and Delaware and they, in turn, provide equipment and supply backup for Ontario’s 32 active mines.

Parent and Rideout hope to see upgraded training facilities in Timmins, Thunder Bay and North Bay down the road.
“In Thunder Bay, for example, we have a very small mine rescue station that’s tucked away where the public doesn’t even know it exists,” said Rideout. “The fact is this is Ontario. We’re proud of our mining. We’re proud of our mine rescue program and we want to be in a location where people see us and remember we’re here.”

A state-of-the-art training facility will also contribute to safer workplaces, said Parent.

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