Hazard summary

Workers who are operating surface rock drill rig equipment may be in danger while tramming equipment over uneven ground. These operators risk serious injury or death if they’re not properly trained and the equipment they’re using is not operated in accordance with the:

  • recommended manufacturer’s instructions
  • applicable safety standards
  • employer’s safe operating procedures

Operators could be injured if the surface drill rig equipment they operate slides or tips over from uneven ground conditions during the tramming process. Conditions that may contribute to this could include:

  • bare or loose rock
  • slippery surfaces caused by snow or ice
  • ground that is wet, muddy or moss-covered

Improper use of a winching device could cause an uncontrolled runaway of the equipment which could endanger the operator and workers in the area.

Key legal requirements

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), employers have general duties, including the duty to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers from exposure to hazards, including surface rock drills.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that all Ontario employers take the following measures to protect the worker’s health and safety, regardless of the type of work:

  • take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker
  • maintain all equipment provided in good condition
  • provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker

Operators must be properly trained and be familiar with the rock drill rig, including the equipment’s:

  • overall stability
  • centre of gravity
  • capabilities and limitations

It’s important that rock drill rig operators are given appropriate instruction and have proper tools and equipment to accurately assess and navigate the slopes and grades of uneven terrain before the movement of the rock drill rig occurs.

In addition to the manufacturer’s specified stability limits, the ISO 18758 Mining and Earth-Moving Machinery standard provides guidance to determine the stability of drill rigs and safe inclinations of the terrain where drill equipment is being operated. This includes guidance about the use of a winching device on steep inclines or slopes.

Operators must ensure that they use winching devices properly and maintain them in good working order so they can use the winching device to maintain control of the equipment and avoid an uncontrolled event.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that supervisors:

  • ensure that a worker uses or wears the equipment, protective devices or clothing that the employer requires they use or wear
  • take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker

The OHSA requires that a worker

  • use or wear the equipment, protective devices or clothing that their employer requires them to use or wear
  • report to their employer or supervisor, any missing or defective equipment or protective device that they’re aware of that may endanger themselves or another worker

The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that no worker use or operate any equipment, machine, device, or thing, or work in a manner that may endanger themselves or any other worker.

Regulation 854 (mines and mining plants)

Risk assessment

Regulation 854 – Mines and Mining Plants, requires all employers to conduct a risk assessment of the workplace to identify, assess and manage hazards and potential hazards that may expose a worker to injury or illness. This includes hazards and potential hazards relating to the use of surface rock rig equipment.

The regulation also requires the employer to develop and maintain measures to eliminate, where practicable, or control, where elimination is impracticable, the hazards and potential hazards identified in the assessment. The employer must consult the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative on these measures.

The regulation requires that the employer reassess the risks, at least annually, to ensure:

  • existing controls and measures remain effective
  • any new hazards or potential hazards are identified and subsequently eliminated or controlled

Personal protective equipment

Under the regulation, an employer can require a worker to wear or use personal protective equipment, clothing and devices as are necessary to protect them from a particular hazard they may be exposed to. The employer must ensure that equipment is maintained in good working order.

Precautions to consider

Workers operating surface rock drill rig equipment should perform daily preoperational assessments and inspections on their equipment. These should include:

  • checking the operator’s control levers and switches for safe condition and proper function
  • ensuring all fluid levels are at proper operating levels, in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications
  • inspecting remote controls (if equipped) for damage and for safe operating condition
  • inspecting the drill mast and feed to ensure good working order
  • inspecting the condition of tracks for damage including cracks, loose or missing fasteners and grouser (cleat) wear
  • ensuring track oscillation is functioning in good working order
  • inspecting the winch system for damage and ensuring that all winch components are readily available and in good working order
  • ensuring that the drill is equipped with an instrument that will measure inclination in more than one direction (at the same time) if the drill is to be operated on slopes or uneven surfaces
  • inspecting the work area for hazards, uneven or unstable ground conditions, and possible overhead contact hazards

Operators who find any defects should remove the equipment from service and report deficiencies to their supervisor.

Contact us

If you need more information about safety requirements for mining, please contact the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development’s Health & Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008 on Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or webohs@ontario.ca.

This resource does not replace the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations and should not be used as or considered legal advice. Health and safety inspectors apply the law based on the facts in the workplace.