2014 Mining conference wrap-up report and photos

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

300 attend sold-out annual health and safety conference in Sudbury

Conference program bookletAs the last of the snow slowly melted along with our memories of a long, brutal winter, more than 300 delegates from across the province came together to learn and share their knowledge specific to mining health and safety.

Those who attended the 2014 Mining Health and Safety Conference hosted by Workplace Safety North in Sudbury last month had the opportunity to hear some excellent speakers and presentations, and enjoy an annual reunion with friends old and new. 

This tight-knit group of Ontario miners has an enduring passion and dedication to health and safety. The conference was sold out once again, indicating an increased attention and focus by both employer and worker on mining health and safety. Enjoy the photo highlights below, and see you again next year!

Click here for complete proceedings from the 2014 Mining Health and Safety Conference.

Four workers at table registering conference attendees

Workplace Safety North staff register delegates at the 2014 mining health and safety conference.

mining conference receptionOpening reception: The 17th annual mining health and safety conference kicked off with a gala reception in the solarium of the Sudbury Holiday Inn on the evening of Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

Hundreds of people seated in large meeting room for conference presentation

Conference opening remarks: Delegates are welcomed by Candys Ballanger-Michaud, CEO of Workplace Safety North.

Conference presenter Dr Lou Francescutti

Love and happiness have everything to do with health: Canadian Medical Association president and former emergency room physician Dr. Lou Francescutti had plenty of stories to tell. He immediately got the audience’s attention by asking for a show of hands of specific age ranges, and then proceeded to note the leading causes of death for each group: in the mid-forties it was injury; in mid-thirties: motor vehicle incident; and 19 and under, the leading cause of death was also injury. Young workers, he noted, cannot assess risk accurately as their brains are not fully developed until age 24 to 25, and “in packs” have a tendency to take greater risks.

Fergus Kerr presenting at conference

Update from Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review advisory group: Fergus Kerr, Employer Vice chair of the Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review Advisory Group provided an update on the Ministry of Labour’s current review of mining health, safety and prevention practices in the province of Ontario.  His advisory group will be announcing working group leads for the review and Kerr encouraged conference attendees to get involved in the working groups, and to make individual online submissions for this important review.

William Davis presenting at conference

Tips on how to manage shiftwork: William Davis, an expert on fatigue risk management systems, speaks to the risks and liabilities associated with shiftwork. Most of us have done shiftwork at one time or another – and it’s not easy. Our safety network of hospitals, fire, and police operate 24-7, and the “human machine,” says Davis, is like a battery that needs downtime to recharge. Managing fatigue risk includes four main areas: (i) sufficient staffing levels; (ii) effective core schedule most conducive to your particular workplace; (iii) environment including lighting, design, and colours; and (iv) peer monitoring including a ‘fitness for duty’ audit, for which safety culture is especially important. 

Tami Helgeson presents to mining conference

A mother’s point of view: Tami Helgeson speaks to the importance of young worker health and safety. Delegates were moved to tears when she described the workplace death of her son. “He’d done everything right – harness, hard hat, personal protective equipment – but someone else didn’t.” Helgeson encouraged workers to support the Steps for Life annual fundraising walk that helps families living with the outcome of a workplace fatality.

Busy mining conference trade show

Mining health and safety trade show: The first full day of the conference wrapped with an afternoon trade show, providing an excellent networking opportunity and a chance to explore the latest offerings from mining health and safety suppliers. 

Two women stand at trade show booth

Workplace Safety North booth: WSN staff Carol Lessard and Cindy Hunter welcome delegates to the seventeenth annual mining health and safety conference.

People seated in meeting room watching presentation

Our Road to Zero Harm: Ron Price from Dumas Mining talks to a packed audience about his experience improving workplace safety. By encouraging workers to report “everything,” they were able to analyze the details of each incident or near-miss and ask, ‘What went wrong?’ The answer was always the same: somebody wasn’t following procedure. Initially, workers were asked to change their behaviour to align with proper procedure; if that didn’t work, then the worker was told the behaviour had to change; and if they still ignored procedure, the worker would be fined – just like a highway traffic ticket – for safety violations. Once that expectation was understood, Price said, workplace safety changed for the better – and quickly.

Man presenting to audience seated in atrium What it Means to be a Mine Rescue Volunteer: Bryan Wilson with Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations-Glencore is a volunteer with 25 years' experience. He summed up the dedication and bonding of Ontario Mine Rescue volunteers saying, "Mine rescue is not just what you you do – it’s a way of life."

Bill Carr presenting to a conference meeting of 300 delegates

Seeing the World Through Safety Glasses: Motivational speaker and funny man Bill Carr wraps up the conference with humour and goodwill. See you next year!