Following a Ministry of Labour investigation, a mining company was fined $55,000 on October 26, 2016 after an employee was injured at a mine in Northern Ontario. The employee, an underground mechanic, was replacing an axel on a mining vehicle when an 878-pound tire fell and injured him. Fortunately, three other employees were nearby to lift the tire off the injured employee who was then taken to the hospital.
The legal basis for the fine was section 107.1(1) of Mines and Mining Plants regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act which states that “An employer shall establish written procedures for work performed on tire and wheel assemblies.” Section 107.1(2) also requires that “The procedures shall address the hazards associated with the work in a manner that protects the health and safety of workers”. Ultimately, the Ministry of Labour investigation found that the company did not have a written procedure in place regarding the hazards of this type of work and the company pleaded guilty to the regulatory violation. In addition to the $55,000 fine, the court imposed a 25% victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act.
This decision serves as a reminder for employers in the mining sector to ensure that they have written procedures in place generally for hazardous work and specifically for work performed on tires. Employers should also note that the mining regulation requires written procedures for, among other things, activities relating to the installation of ground support at mines (section 67), the movement of bulk material in a pass, chute or storage area (section 84) and work involving trolley lines (section 180(11)).
Employers in the mining industry should also be aware of the additional health and safety requirements which will be coming into force on January 1, 2017. These additions to the Mines and Mining Plants regulation will require employers to conduct a risk assessment to identify, assess and manage hazards and potential hazards that may expose workers to injury or illness. Risk assessments will have to be provided to the joint health and safety committee and reviewed as necessary and at least annually.