The province expects to implement the first three amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act — aimed at improving safety standards in Ontario mines— early in 2016.
“These three in particular were amendments that were put forward by the committee that we've acted on as quickly as we could,” said Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn, referring to the provincial Mining, Health, Safety and Prevention Review committee.
In April, the committee published its final report, which made 18 recommendations to improve mine safety in Ontario and avoid the fatalities that have continued to plague the sector.
On Oct. 20, Richard Pigeau, 54, died at the 1,660-metre level of Glencore's Nickel Rim South Mine in Sudbury when he was struck by a piece of equipment, followed by another fatality on Nov. 25 at Goldcorp’s Musselwhite Mine in northwestern Ontario where a scoop operator was killed by an “unexpected fall of ground.”
“As Minister of Labour, that's the worst possible news I can get,” Flynn said. “It drives home the need to get this right.”
In the spring, Flynn committed to implement all the recommendations from the review, adding that three amendments, now open for consultation, are the first step to achieve that goal.
The consultation concludes on Jan. 15, and if approved, the amendments would modify Regulation 854 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which covers mines and mining plants.
“They're not guidelines. They're not good ideas. It's the law,” Flynn said.
The first proposed amendment, which came at the behest of family members who have lost loved ones in Ontario mines, would strengthen existing requirements regarding water management and ground control.
The second amendment would
introduce new requirements for mines and mining plants to conduct
risk assessments and have formal traffic management programs.
“What we're saying now is that you have to have a traffic management program in place before you operate,” Flynn said.
The final amendment would update training requirements for surface diamond drill operations to reflect changes to the modular training program made by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
Flynn said he doesn't expect significant changes from the consultation process because the mine safety review committee did a thorough job coming up with its recommendations.
After the amendments are implemented in the new year, probably around mid-February when the house resumes, Flynn said, the province plans to put forward up to 10 more amendments by mid-year.