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Ministry of Labour launches mine inspection blitz in Ontario

Province inspectors to focus on training and compliance Occupational Health and Safety Act

Ontario has launched a mining safety inspection blitz.

The initiative by the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development will last until next March, said Jennifer Rushby, a media spokesperson with the ministry. 

"Starting this week, mining inspectors across the province will be conducting workplace inspections at mines and mining plants, focusing on training. This campaign is to ensure workplaces are in compliance with Occupational Health and Safety laws and keeping miners safe," said a ministry news release.

Rushby said a key goal of the campaign is to ensure that workers and supervisors have the correct training for their jobs.

"Our goal is twofold: we want to ensure that workers and supervisors are trained and accredited in the areas they need to perform their jobs safely, and that employers are meeting all safety requirements," Rushby said in an email interview.

She said ministry inspectors will be visiting open-pit and underground mines as well as surface plants and refineries. 

Along with training requirements, she said inspectors will be checking for compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) as well as identifying any workplace hazards. 

This would include identifying any incidents or evidence of workplace harassment or violence, said Rushby.

The inspections also take into account that as mining operations go to greater depths (9,000 feet and deeper) mining inspectors have to ensure that working conditions are still safe.

"With the deeper mines, heat stress becomes a concern and requires the employers to have a program in place to ensure workers’ health and safety is not negatively affected," said Rushby.

She added that the campaign is not in response to any significant increase in mining related injuries or incidents.

"The focus of the campaign is determined by using a risk-based assessment that considers;  injury, illness and fatality data; health and safety research; and feedback from system partners and inspectors," said Rushby.

Incidentally, at roughly the halfway point through the year, there have been zero mining fatalities in Ontario this year, Rushby revealed.

She added that because the inspection campaigns have become a regular function at the ministry, this does not create any new or unusual demand on the duties of mine inspectors.

"Last year, mining inspectors made nearly 2,300 proactive visits and responded to over 500 complaints, injuries, and fatalities," said Rushby.

"Last year, ministry inspectors issued over 5,300 orders. That’s 5,300 potential hazards identified and addressed to help keep workers safe," she added.