FNX Mining/KGHM International was fined $87,500 in a Sudbury court after a mine worker was critically injured while riding in the bucket of an underground front-end loader in 2017.
The incident occurred at the company’s Morrison (formerly Levack) copper-nickel mine in Onaping, an outlying community in the City of Greater Sudbury.
The Toronto-based miner pleaded guilty and Justice of the Peace Michael Kitlar issued a $70,000 fine on Sept.7, plus a 25-per-cent surcharge which is credited to a special provincial fund to assist victims of crime.
The court heard that on Jan. 11, 2017, a worker was performing remote mucking (loading extracted ore) from a draw point at the copper mine, which is a funnel-shaped opening through which the ore is removed.
The worker was operating a scooptram, also known as a load haul dump truck, which is equipped with a front-mounted bucket to move broken rock in the mine.
After some time, the worker noticed that the in-and-out movement of the scooptram in the draw point had damaged ventilation tubing and the area was filling up with the diesel fumes from the vehicle. A supervisor directed a second worker to help with the repair.
The two workers placed a five-foot by eleven-foot section of screen mesh in the scooptram’s bucket, intending to elevate it at a particular place at the draw point, where it would be used.
It was agreed that the first worker would work from the bucket to carry out the repairs, while the second worker would operate the scooptram.
About half of the mesh section was outside of the bucket, so the first worker got into the bucket and stood on top of the mesh to weigh it down and prevent it from moving. The second worker raised the bucket and curled it back, in order to lift the part of the mesh section that was still on the ground.
As the bucket rotated back and up, the worker in the bucket was pinched between the bucket and the frame of the machine as the hydraulic cylinder was closing. The worker suffered crushing injuries requiring surgery.
The operator's guide for the scooptram states that riders should not be allowed in the bucket.
The Ministry of Labour engineer who examined the scooptram concluded that the vehicle was not designed for the particular task for which it was being used, given the potential hazards of pinch points.
The court determined that the mining company failed to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that the scooptram was used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and/or in a way in which it was designed to be used. This is an offence under section 66(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.