Ontario is improving the health and safety of underground mine workers by accepting and acting on all 18 consensus recommendations made in the Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Advisory Group's final report.
"Though Ontario is one of the safest jurisdictions in the world to work, mining remains a high-risk occupation. I’m confident that the work done by the advisory group will increase safety in our mines and save lives," said Kevin Flynn, minister of labour, who made the announcement today at the Workplace Safety North Mining Health and Safety Conference in Sudbury, Ont.
The report's recommendations will:
•require employers to have formal water management programs to reduce hazards related to excess water in areas where miners are working
•enhance ground control protection to track and monitor seismic activity
•mandate the Ministry of Labour to partner with employers and labour to conduct regular mining sector risk assessments
•require employers to have plans in place to manage hazards like silica and diesel exhaust that cause occupational illness.
The final report builds on steps the government has already taken to improve worker safety including a proposal to mandate the use of high visibility apparel to improve worker visibility and the maintenance of a mining exposure database to track and monitor potential cancer causing toxins.
"Health and safety is a continuous journey of improvement, and we must always monitor emerging health and safety issues and continue to move towards a culture of all parties working together to find sustainable solutions," said George Gritziotis, chief prevention officer.
Gritziotis will work with mining industry partners to implement the final report's recommendations. The advisory group — including representatives from industry, labour, government and impacted families — will convene in the near future to prioritize implementation of the recommendations, said the provincial government.
Mining in Ontario is diverse, covering a wide range of mineral commodities, including gold, nickel, copper, salt, diamonds, and a number of structural building materials. The province’s mining sector employs 27,000 people.
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