Ministry of Labour Publishes Results of 2018 Mining Inspection Initiatives

The Ministry of Labour (“MOL”) recently published the results of two health and safety inspection initiatives it conducted at mines and mining plants in 2018 with respect to conveyor guarding and personal protective equipment (“PPE”) under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, RSO 1990, c. O.1 (“OHSA”) and Mines and Mining Plants, RRO 1990, Reg 854 (“Mining Reg”). Due to the significant number of orders issued relating to conveyor guarding, the MOL has indicated that this issue will continue to be a priority. Mining employers can expect further inspections and should take extra caution to ensure compliance.

Conveyor Guarding

From June 1 to July 31, MOL inspectors conducted 106 field visits and visited 86 mining workplaces to check on specific safety issues with respect to conveyor guarding such as:

  • Guarding: Inspectors checked that guards were in place at hazardous locations on conveyor belts, including the tail, head, drive, deflection and tension pulleys, and (where necessary) return rollers and carry rollers. They also checked that a fence, barricade or gate equipped with an interlocking device was in place and properly installed when guarding devices could not be used.
  • Measures and procedures: Inspectors checked that effective precautions were in place to protect workers who were required to perform repairs, adjustments or maintenance on conveyors that were running.
  • Worker training: Inspectors checked that workers had been trained on how to lockout and tag conveyors, as well as how to perform maintenance if the conveyor is running.

Inspectors issued 501 orders and requirements, including 30 stop work orders. An average of 5.83 orders and requirements were issued per workplace visited. The most frequently issued orders were:

  • make sure the head, tail, drive, deflection and tension pulleys, and (if the lift of the belt was restricted) the return rollers and the carry rollers were guarded by a guard that, unless it would render the pinch point inaccessible, extended at least 0.9 metres from the pinch point [Mining Reg, s. 196(3.1)] — 50 orders or 29.94% of the total orders and requirements issued.
  • employer failure to ensure equipment, material and protective devices provided by the employer are maintained in good condition [OHSA, s. 25(1)(b)] — 26 orders or 5.19%.
  • conduct a risk assessment of the workplace for the purpose of identifying, assessing and managing hazards and potential hazards that may expose a worker to injury or illness [Mining Reg, s. 5.1(1)] — 22 orders or 4.39%.
  • ensure that every conveyor has an emergency stopping system that operates a manual reset switch that stops the conveyor [Mining Reg, s. 196.1(1)] — 19 orders or 3.79%.
  • have an emergency stopping system [Mining Reg, s. 196(3)] — 18 orders or 3.59%.
  • employer failure to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker [OHSA, s. 25(2)(h)] — 17 orders or 3.39%.
  • ensure a machine that has an exposed moving part that may endanger the safety of any person is fenced or guarded [Mining Reg, s. 185(2)] — 11 orders or 2.20%.

PPE

From February 1 to March 31, MOL inspectors conducted 111 field visits and visited 89 mining workplaces to check on specific safety issues with respect to PPE and high visibility clothing such as:

  • Measures and procedures: Inspectors checked that personal protective equipment adequately protected workers for the work being performed. They checked that workers knew when personal protective equipment must be worn, and that employers had identified locations in the workplace where workers must use personal protective equipment such as respirators. They also checked if workers could be protected using other methods.
  • Worker training: Inspectors checked that workers were trained on the care and use of their personal protective equipment.
  • Worker visibility: Inspectors checked that workers were using high visibility safety apparel as required by the mining regulation.
  • Traffic management: Inspectors checked that traffic management programs had identified distracted driving as a high risk to equipment operators.

Inspectors issued 297 orders and requirements, including 17 stop work orders. An average of 3.3 orders and requirements were issued per workplace visited. The most frequently issued orders were:

  • employer failure to ensure equipment, material and protective devices provided by the employer were maintained in good condition [OHSA, s. 25(1)(b)] – 25 orders or 8.42% of the total orders and requirements issued during the initiative.
  • employer failure to comply with a requirement that a pull cord under Mining Regulation s.196(2)(a) is within easy reach of accessible locations along the conveyor, and employer failure to operate a manual reset switch that stops the conveyor [Mining Reg, s. 196(3.1)] – 17 orders or 5.72%.
  • employer failure to conduct a workplace risk assessment that identifes, assesses and manages hazards and potential hazards that may expose a worker to injury or illness [Mining Reg, s. 5.1(1)] – 15 orders or 5.05%.
  • employer failure to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker [OHSA, s. 25(2)(h)] – 13 orders or 4.38%.
  • employer failure to provide a suitable protective barrier for the open side of a ramp haulage road in a surface mine [Mining Reg, s. 116(2)] – 13 orders or 4.38%.

Takeaways

The MOL noted that the results of the conveyor guarding inspections indicated that it needs to “continue to focus on promoting compliance with the requirements for conveyor guarding in underground and surface mines.” The MOL did not make any similar comments with respect to PPE and high visibility clothing, likely because the number of orders issued per visit was much lower: 3.3 for PPE against 5.8 for conveyor guarding. Accordingly, it seems likely that a follow-up education and inspection program for conveyor guarding may be forthcoming and mining employers should take extra caution to ensure compliance with conveyor guarding standards moving forward.

Additionally, employers in industrial establishments should also take note that the MOL will be conducting an inspection blitz on machine guarding from February 1 to March 29, 2019 and likely will be checking on these same issues.

If you have any questions about the steps you should be taking to prepare for, and respond to, a future MOL inspection initiative, please contact one of the members of our Labour & Employment group.

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