Non-routine hazardous tasks in mines
Learn the legal requirements and best practices for non-routine hazardous tasks in mines.
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We developed this guideline to provide best practice recommendations that workplace parties should consider when fulfilling their responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and Regulation 854 and the development of procedures where the level of hazard with a task or situation is abnormally high.
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 and enforce these laws based on the facts they find in the workplace.
- To provide information on the development of non-routine hazardous task procedures, including workplace parties who should be included in the process.
- To minimize the risk of injury to workers on surface and in underground mining environments where identified non-routine hazardous tasks are being performed.
Section 62.1 of Regulation 854 (Mines and Mining Plants) under the OHSA covers the important requirements.
The requirements in section 62.1 of the Regulation are the result, in part, of recommendations from a Coroner’s Jury Inquest into a fatality in Elliot Lake where a crew leader who was preparing for a lip liner change in a loading pocket fell 164 feet from a platform. The Coroner’s Jury recommended that there be regular reviews of critical job procedures by workers and supervisors, adequate supervision and thorough checks on all safety equipment.
These are performed infrequently at the workplace. While, in some cases, there may be workplace procedures in place for non-routine tasks, in many cases they have not been used for significant periods of time.
A breakdown or an upset situation where something unexpected has occurred and existing precautions and controls have not lowered the risk to as low as reasonably possible.
What is hazardous?
Where hazards pose higher risk of severe consequences
Industry experience and formal risk assessments should be used to determine the severity, likelihood and current level of control of hazards.
The Ministry of Labour Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) and Workplace Safety North (WSN) can provide information on current and potential hazards in the mining industry. Past causes of fatalities and serious incidents include runs of material, interaction with mobile equipment, loose rock (including ground falls, bursts), and inadequate guarding/locking and tagging.
Determining a non-routine hazardous task
The regulation requires that non-routine hazardous tasks be determined jointly by the employer and the joint health and safety committee (JHSC) or the health and safety representative (Representative). This would mean including these parties in the process of making this determination. It is worthwhile to conduct a JHSC review of all existing procedures to determine those that may be done on a non-routine basis.
Safe procedures are to be developed jointly between the employer and the JHSC or Representative. Other appropriately experienced workers may be useful resources to help prepare safe and practical solutions.
The following description of meaningful consultation will help in the initial decision-making process about whether or not an activity is a non-routine hazardous task.
Where the Occupational Health and Safety Act or its regulations require that an action be taken in consultation with another party, including but not limited to the JHSC or Representative, the MLTSD expects that the employer will engage in a meaningful interaction (e.g. including but not limited to dialogue, discussion and providing all relevant information) with the JHSC or Representative.
There should be a genuine opportunity for the JHSC to comment, and those comments should be received and considered in good faith. This includes taking into account any feedback and responses from the JHSC or Representative before taking action (i.e. implementing a plan, program etc.) and responding to any recommendation arising out of the consultation.
Consultation is not simply informing the JHSC or the Representative that the employer intends to take action.
- The establishment of safe procedures for non-routine hazardous tasks is not permission to take short-cuts. The OHSA and Regulations must still be followed. The intent is to do all that is reasonably possible to ensure worker safety [see clauses 25(2)(h) and 27(2)(c) of the OHSA], when a non-routine hazardous task must be performed.
- industry leaders consider reviewing procedures with the crew before starting [as per subsection 62.1(4) of Reg. 854] to be a valuable safety practice by. This allows the Internal Responsibility System (IRS) to work.
- Reviewing the procedure after finishing the job is a best practice that allows refinements based on fresh work experience.
Formal risk assessment tools should be used for these tasks. Section 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 of Regulation 854 under the OHSA sets out the requirements to conduct a risk assessment that will aid in the application of the regulations in minimizing the specific hazards at an employer’s workplace.
Possible industry examples of non-routine hazardous tasks
- conveyance that has fallen down the shaft
- conveyance firmly stuck in the shaft
- crusher bearing changes
- kinked hoist rope
- raise, ore pass with heavily saturated ore
- retrieving a disabled remote scoop from a non-entry stope
- slack rope on top of a conveyance
- rehabilitation after a sizable ground fall or rock burst
- retrieving and accounting for un-detonated explosives in a muckpile