Overview

From September 17 to November 30, 2018, the Ministry of Labour conducted a health and safety initiative which focused on mobile equipment at mines and mining plants. The initiative was organized in two phases.

During phase 1, which ran from September 17 to October 1, the Ministry of Labour worked with Workplace Safety North (WSN) to provide training and education to employers. In addition, information and training was provided to the Mining Legislative Review Committee (MLRC), whose members represent underground mines, surface mines and mine contractors. The goal was to help employers comply with requirements for mobile equipment under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations.

During phase 2, which ran from October 2 to November 30, inspectors visited mines and mining plants to check that employers were complying with the OHSA and Regulation 854: Mines and Mining Plants. In particular, they checked that employers were making sure that:

  • there was a program in place to prevent collisions that might endanger workers
  • engineering controls were in place to prevent workers coming into contact with mobile equipment and to prevent collisions
  • a maintenance program was in place for motor vehicles so they are in safe working condition
  • a safe means of accessing equipment during maintenance and operation was being provided

From October 2 to November 30, 2018, Ministry of Labour inspectors:

  • conducted 159 field visits with 27 support role activities footnote 1
  • visited 139 mining workplaces
  • issued 564 orders and requirements, including 54 stop work orders

The goals of this mining health and safety initiative were to:

  • raise awareness of mobile equipment hazards
  • increase workplace compliance with the law
  • help prevent injuries and illness that could arise from unsafe work practices

Mobile equipment

Interaction between workers and mobile equipment continues to be the leading cause of injury and death to workers in the mining industry.

Between 2000 and 2016, 13 workers died in Ontario mines as a result of incidents involving motor vehicles and mobile equipment. Mobile equipment is the major source of fatal injuries in underground mining.

The Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review, completed in 2015, identified hazards associated with mobile equipment as one of five health and safety priorities in underground mining. The Ministry of Labour health and safety initiative focusing on mobile equipment at mines and mining plants is one way the ministry is addressing this hazard.

Full report

Workplace inspection initiatives

Inspection initiatives are part of our Safe At Work Ontario compliance strategy. We announce to the sector, in advance, that we will be conducting an initiative, although individual workplaces are not notified in advance. The results of the short-term provincial initiative are typically posted online within 90 days. Inspectors’ findings may impact the number and level of future inspections of individual workplaces.

Inspectors may also refer employers to health and safety associations for compliance assistance and training.

Focus of the initiative

Phase 1 of the multi-phase health and safety initiative took place from September 17 to October 1, 2018.

Information on the initiative was provided on August 23, 2018 at a webinar co-hosted by the ministry and Workplace Safety North (WSN). The webinar offered details on what Ministry of Labour inspectors would be looking for during the inspection initiative, OHSA requirements for mobile equipment in mines and mining plants, and gave attendees an opportunity to ask questions about mobile equipment inspections in the mining sector.

Information and training was also provided to the members of the Mining Legislative Review Committee (MLRC). The committee’s members represent underground mines, surface mines and mine contractors from a cross-section of mines in the province. General details of all the planned Ministry of Labour initiatives were given at the June MLRC meeting when sector plans became available; a presentation on the mobile equipment initiative was given during the October meeting of the committee while the initiative was in progress.

During phase 2, from October 2 to November 30, 2018, inspectors focused on equipment maintenance, worker training and high visibility safety apparel (HVSA) that is required to protect the health and safety of workers in mines and mining plants in Ontario. These included providing maintenance, repairs or replacement of:

  • HVSA and equipment
  • broken or shattered windows
  • missing mirrors
  • inoperative lights and
  • a safe means of accessing equipment for maintenance

Inspectors also checked that traffic management programs had been developed in consultation with the joint health and safety committee (JHSC) or health and safety representative (HSR), if any. Programs needed to contain measures and procedures to prevent collisions of motor vehicles that might endanger a worker, and programs should have been reviewed on a regular basis as required, but at least annually. They also checked that haulage roads on surface mines were being designed and maintained to minimize slipping, enable safe passing and that a suitable barrier on the open side of the ramp was in place. Inspectors checked that when material was being dumped from a vehicle occupied by a person, the area had features designed to prevent it from going over the bank or into an open hole. In an underground mine, these features cannot include the use of a ridge of material.

Inspectors took appropriate action if violations were found under the OHSA or its regulations. This included:

  • writing orders to employers, supervisors and workers to have them comply with legal requirements
  • issuing stop work orders requiring employers to comply before work could continue

Inspection activity summary

Visits to workplaces

  • 159 field visits with 27 support role activities
  • 139 workplaces visited
  • 564 orders and requirements issued
    • 545 orders issued for violations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations, including 54 stop work orders
    • 19 requirements issued to provide an inspector with workplace information
  • an average of 4.06 orders and requirements issued per workplace visited
  • an average of 3.55 orders and requirements issued per visit

Most frequently issued orders

Most of the orders issued under the Occupational Health and Safety Act were for the following reasons:

  • failure to ensure equipment, materials and protective devices provided by the employer are maintained in good condition [s. 25(1)(b)] — 54 orders or 9.57% of the total orders and requirements issued during the initiative
  • to stop work on any place, equipment, machine, device, article, thing, process or material until order is complied with [s. 57(6)(a)] — 29 orders or 5.14%
  • failure to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for protection of workers [s. 25(2)(h)] — 24 orders or 4.26%
  • to stop work at the workplace as indicated in the order until the order to stop work is withdrawn or cancelled by an inspector after an inspection [s. 57(6)(b)] — 24 orders or 4.26%
  • constructor, licensee or employer required to submit to the ministry a compliance plan prepared in the manner and including such items as required by the order [s. 57(4)] — 21 orders or 3.72%

The most frequently issued orders under Regulation 854: Mines and Mining Plants were for employers’ failure to:

  • ensure the head, tail, drive, deflection and tension pulleys – and if the lift of the belt is restricted, the return rollers and the carry rollers – are guarded by a guard that, unless it would render the pinch point inaccessible, extends at least 0.9 metres from the pinch point [s. 196(3.1)] — 58 orders or 10.28% of the total orders and requirements issued during the initiative
  • ensure that procedures are in place and adopted for the testing, maintenance and inspection of each motor vehicle and include a record of any testing, maintenance and inspection [s. 105(7)(d)] — 21 orders or 3.72%
  • ensure that a motor vehicle (other than a motor vehicle running on rails) is equipped with a type BC fire extinguisher when the vehicle is in use [s. 105(1)(l)] – 16 orders or 2.84%
  • develop and maintain a traffic management program in consultation with the health and safety committee or health and safety representative, if any [s. 105.1(1)] — 15 orders or 2.66%
  • ensure a procedure is in place for the testing of brake, steering, lighting and other safety components prior to the initial use of the motor vehicle for the shift [s. 105(7)(a)] — 13 orders or 2.30%
  • post in conspicuous places at each mine or mining plant notices setting out the name, business address and business telephone number of the inspector for the district, the person in charge of the mine or mining plant, the employer of the workers, and the owner of the mine or mining plant [s. 4] — 13 orders or 2.30% conduct a risk assessment for the purpose of identifying assessing and managing hazards and potential hazards, that may expose a worker to injury or illness [s. 5.1 ] — 12 orders or 2.13%

Observations

The results of this initiative indicate that workplace parties need to improve compliance with conveyor guarding, maintaining mobile equipment in a safe operating condition and conducting risk assessments for the purpose of identifying, assessing and managing hazards. In addition, workplaces parties must ensure they have an up-to-date traffic management plan in place to prevent collisions of motor vehicles that may endanger the health and safety of workers at mines.

Conclusion and next steps

Ministry inspectors will continue to pay attention to the above areas of concern. This includes hazards that could result in workers being struck by vehicles or becoming entangled in moving parts of conveyors. Inspectors will also check that equipment, materials and protective devices provided by the employer are maintained in good condition.

The results of the initiative confirm the ministry’s need to continue to focus on mobile equipment, maintenance and traffic control hazards in underground and surface mines. The goal is to reduce injuries and fatalities that involve vehicles and mobile equipment in Ontario’s mining workplaces.

A key to workplace health and safety in Ontario is the Internal Responsibility System (IRS). Workplace parties are encouraged to work together to identify and control all hazards.

Help for employers

Please contact our health and safety partners for more information on the hazards associated with mobile equipment.


Footnotes

  • footnote[1] Back to paragraph Activities in which professional services staff (e.g., a hygienist, ergonomist, engineer, etc.) or another inspector accompanies an inspector on a field visit to provide professional support and/or expertise.
Updated: June 22, 2021
Published: February 15, 2019