Falls from heights a leading cause of workplace injuries and fatalities
Falls from elevation are a significant hazard in the Ontario mining industry. Everyone, even employees with years of experience working close to fall hazards, can become complacent about wearing fall protection equipment.
Every company should have a fall protection program. This starts with a policy. A policy statement states the company’s commitment to reducing fall hazards in the workplace. A designated person must be in charge to oversee a fall protection program and put in place controls to manage fall hazards identified during the risk assessment.
Examples of working at heights in mining sector
Slinging equipment into a shaft
When a worker is slinging equipment into a shaft, there is the danger of falling into the shaft, and fall arrest equipment is required.
Falls from equipment
The sheer size of mobile mining equipment like 50-ton trucks and large load-haul-dump units, also known as scoop trams, can make maintenance and service activities treacherous. Discussions are currently underway regarding installation of railings on this equipment. For now, when a worker wants to service the equipment or check fluid levels, they must wear fall arrest equipment.
Using aerial lift device
Often aerial lift devices are used to run electrical cable that provides service to underground mobile and stationary equipment such as fans, trailing cables for scoop trams, and jumbo drills. Aerial lift devices are used to eliminate hazards associated with working from a ladder, and fall arrest equipment must be worn by the worker.
Ontario Mine Rescue
Ontario Mine Rescue trains its volunteers on how to conduct a high-angle rescue.
What the law says
Regardless of the size and cost of a construction project, the Occupational Health and Safety Act’s (OHSA) Regulations for Construction Projects is always applicable. Under the OHSA, a “constructor” is a person or company who oversees the construction of a project, and who is ultimately responsible for the health and safety of all workers, according to the Ministry of Labour. The constructor must ensure that all the employers and workers on the project comply with the Act and regulations.
OHSA Ontario Regulation 854, Mines and Mining Plants, outlines the legislative requirements for fall protection. Section 14 addresses fall arrest. Section 60 addresses fall arrest while working in bins. Section 84(2) focuses on fall arrest with movement of bulk materials. Section 94 addresses fall protection while scaling. Section 190 focuses on fall arrest on scaffolds and stages. Section 46(3) addresses when guardrails are necessary. Ontario Regulation 213, Construction Projects, Section 26.1 to 26.9, provides additional legislation on fall protection.
Legal duties of the person or company overseeing a construction project
A constructor has overall responsibility for worker health and safety on a project and must ensure:
- the measures and procedures prescribed by the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Regulations for Construction Projects are carried out on the project;
- every employer and every worker on the project complies with this act and the Regulations for Construction Projects;
- the health and safety of workers on the project is protected;
- a health and safety representative or a Joint Health and Safety Committee is selected as prescribed;
- the Ministry of Labour is notified of a project as prescribed;
- the Ministry of Labour is notified of an accident or occurrence as prescribed; and
- every contractor or subcontractor receives a list of all designated substances present at the project before the prospective contractor or subcontractor enters into a binding contract for the supply of work on the project.
New in 2015: Working at Heights safety training. Designed for compliance with the Ministry of Labour’s new Working at Heights training requirements, WSN training participants receive the most up-to-date information with hands-on instruction from industry experts and trained adult educators.