Overview

During an enforcement initiative from February 1 to March 31, 2018, Ministry of Labour inspectors:

Inspectors checked that employers were complying with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations at mines and mining plants.

In particular, they checked that workers had the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) to perform their work safely, including high visibity clothing. They also checked that mines were complying with new requirements for traffic management programs.

The goals of the inspection initiative were to:

  • raise awareness of health and safety hazards at mines and mining plants
  • increase workplace compliance with the law
  • help prevent injuries and illness that can arise from unsafe work practices

Personal protective equipment and high visibility clothing

Between 2012 and 2016, 108 workers in Ontario’s mining sector died as a result of occupational diseases, according to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). Many of these fatalities were the result of workers being exposed to biological, chemical or physical agents in the workplace.

We are committed to preventing occupational disease. This includes checking that mine workers use adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect against exposure to dangerous agents. Even short-term exposure can damage a worker’s respiratory, skin and circulatory systems.

Workers also need to wear high visibility clothing to protect against other hazards such as vehicle traffic in mines.

Between 2000 and 2016, 13 workers died as a result of incidents involving motor vehicles and mobile equipment at Ontario mines.

In 2016, amendments were made to the mining regulations. These included stricter visibility requirements that require workers to wear properly maintained, high visibility safety apparel when working around vehicles and moving equipment.

Distracted driving

Distracted driving was named as one of the top risks by mining industry and labour representatives in a 2016 surface mining risk assessment.

During the initiative, inspectors checked that mining workplaces were using new requirements for traffic management programs. This included checking that these programs took into account the risk of injury or death if workers became distracted while operating equipment.

Full report

Workplace inspection initiatives

Inspection initiatives are part of the ministry’s 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.

We aim to post the results of the initiative online within 90 days. Inspectors' findings may affect the number and level of future inspections of individual workplaces.

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

Initiative focus

Common hazards when working at mines and mining plants

Inspectors checked on specific safety issues 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 took appropriate action, as necessary, if violations were found under the Occupational Health and Safety Act or its regulations. This included:

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

Inspection activity summary

Visits to workplaces

  • 111 field visits with 18 support role activities
  • 89 workplaces visited
  • 297 orders issued
  • 0 requirements issued to provide an inspector with workplace information
  • an average of 3.3 orders issued per workplace visited
  • an average of 2.7 orders issued per visit

Most frequently issued orders

Orders were issued under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and Regulation 854: Mines and Mining Plants. The most frequent were for:

  • 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 issued during the initiative
  • stop work order on any place, equipment, machine, device, article, thing, process or material until order was completed [OHSA s. 57(6)(a)] – 21 orders or 7.07%
  • stop work order at a workplace until the stop work order is withdrawn or cancelled by an inspector after an inspection [OHSA s. 57(6)(b)] – 17 orders or 5.72%
  • 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 Regulation s. 196(3.1)] – 17 orders or 5.72%
  • to have a constructor, licensee or an employer submit to the Ministry of Labour a compliance plan prepared in the manner and including such items as required by the order [OHSA s. 57(4)] – 16 orders or 5.39%
  • 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 Regulation 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 Regulation s. 116(2)] – 13 orders or 4.38%

Observations

Workers continue to be exposed to hazards from airborne contaminants because they:

  • do not have, or aren’t wearing, adequate personal protective equipment, appropriate high visibility clothing
  • have not been properly trained in their use

Heightened awareness of any hazard can bring change. The risk of any hazard can be reduced, or even prevented, by raising awareness and taking proper precautions.

Everyone in the workplace should put safety first and be alert in their daily routine.

Conclusion and next steps

Serious injuries can occur when workers are not properly trained on:

  • hazards in the workplace
  • how to correctly use personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • how to properly maintain PPE in good condition

A key to workplace health and safety in Ontario is the internal responsibility system (IRS). The Occupational Health and Safety Act lays out the duties of employers, supervisors, workers, constructors and workplace owners.

Workplace parties need to know their OHSA duties to establish a strong IRS and to control hazards in the workplace.

Help for employers

Please contact our health and safety partners for more information on identifying, preventing and controlling these hazards.

See health and safety awareness products and training for workplace parties.


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: October 30, 2018