New key hazard assessment service for mining sector

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Infographic, upcoming changes to Ontario mining health and safety legislation

Ontario mining health and safety infographic

Infographic: Mining Health and Safety Snapshot - Please download, share and encourage discussion in your workplace.

Employing more than 22,000 full-time workers, the Ontario mining sector experienced three traumatic fatalities, and 11 fatalities from occupational disease in 2014, according to allowed claims at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). A recent mining health and safety infographic by Ontario mining health and safety association, Workplace Safety North (WSN), indicates the majority of injuries were caused by workers being struck by rocks, crushed stone, machinery or equipment.

Results of provincial mining review

To address fatalities in the mining industry, a provincial Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review consulted with stakeholders across Ontario, including six working groups tasked with conducting an in-depth examination of pertinent issues in the mining sector. 

As a result, new requirements for mining companies to conduct risk assessments and address key hazards could become law as early as autumn 2016 under Regulation 854 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. To support industry, WSN has developed a free key hazard assessment service for mining sector employers.

Photo of Mike Parent, Mining Director at Workplace Safety North“Based on recommendations from the mining review final report, WSN has created a ‘Key Hazards Assessment’ service,” says Mike Parent, WSN Mining Director. “With 11 mining health and safety specialists and 12  mine rescue officers across the province, WSN also has industry subject matter experts available for assessments related to electrical-mechanical, industrial hygiene, ventilation, ground control, and workplace culture.” 

Key Hazard Assessments

  1. Ground control, including risks associated with seismicity and rockbursts
  2. Occupational disease, focusing on exposure to airborne hazards
  3. Water management, particularly problematic water in ore and waste passages
  4. Mobile equipment and the risks of collision
  5. Worker fatigue
  6. Controls for worker training

Assessments are comprised of two sections: (i) legislative and regulatory compliance review to ensure the operations meet current rules governing the hazard; and (ii) risk assessment and control review to ensure each operation has conducted a thorough risk assessment for the hazard and, more importantly, to ensure programs are in place so that required controls are routinely audited for effectiveness.

“Sometimes we’re so acclimated to our work environment, it’s good to have a fresh eye,” says Parent. “That’s exactly what WSN specialists are trained to do. The key hazard assessments are available free of charge and are intended to assist mining sector employers meet upcoming legislative requirements, and prevent incidents that can cause fatal injuries in our mines.” 

Steps in Key Hazard Assessment process

Since the service is new, Parent outlines the steps WSN member firms need to take to access the assessments. 

“Basically, when a firm contacts us, the mining health and safety specialist in their geographic area is assigned to their assessment. For example, let’s say a mining operation requests a ground control assessment. Based on their specific site, our specialist would help the firm prioritize the order of six available assessments, line up the appropriate subject matter expert, if necessary, and then schedule the assessment. One key hazard at a time is assessed during the on-site visit, which would take from half a day to a full day. 

“Within 30 days of the assessment, the company receives a confidential written report and WSN specialists would work with them on any areas of opportunity. This ensures follow-through on all recommendations. Once one key hazard has been satisfactorily addressed, the firm would move on to the next priority assessment on their list.”

Parent emphasizes leading mining sector employers will be quick to access the service, since they were also active contributors to the provincial mining review process. “The best firms understand that protecting workers with top-notch health and safety programs is a reliable performance indicator, as well as a measure of their reputation in both the local community and the global mining industry.”

“Our mission is to help the industry prevent critical and fatal injuries. We are their prevention partner, and currently provide mining-specific occupational health and safety training that includes supervisory training, Joint Health and Safety Committee Certification, as well as Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities supervisor common core training programs. The new Key Hazards Assessment program is another tool in the prevention toolbox and I know the industry will make good use of it,” adds Parent.

To find out more or to schedule a Key Hazards Assessment, mining sector employers can contact Workplace Safety North at (705) 474-7233 or