Toronto, ON – The province of Ontario has launched a month-long safety inspection blitz of pits and quarries across the province. The safety blitz, which began in July, focuses on hazards involving rock crushing, screening and conveying processes, hazards that can endanger the health and safety of surface mine workers.
Inspectors aim to ensure that guarding devices are used to protect workers from moving parts on equipment; written lockout procedures for equipment are available; dust control measures are used effectively; and protective hearing devices are being worn.
The increased enforcement is part of the province’s Safe At Work Ontario strategy, launched in June 2008.
Deaths and serious injuries
Aggregate material — made up of stone, sand and gravel — is mined at thousands of pits and quarries in Ontario. This material is used to build roads and in nearly all residential, commercial and industrial construction. Since 2000, eight workers have died in pits and quarries in Ontario. Two of them were in incidents involving rock crushing, screening and conveying processes.
During the same period, 60 workers were seriously injured in pits and quarries. Four workers were in incidents involving rock crushing, screening and conveying process.
The biggest hazards at pits and quarries involve equipment such as belt conveyors, rock crushers and vibrating screens used in crushing, screening and conveying processes.
Hazards can include lack of adequate guarding and conveyor shutdown devices; lack of adequate lock and tag procedures; poorly maintained equipment; lack of fall arrest equipment; exposure to live electrical equipment ; inadequate ladders, platforms and walkways; exposure to dust; and exposure to noise.
Ontario Ministry of Labour inspectors will target pits and quarries that inspectors have not visited before, where concerns have been noted, and where there is a poor compliance history. The inspectors will take enforcement action, as appropriate, for any contraventions found under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations.
Mining inspectors will focus on the following key priorities:
Guarding: Inspectors will check for the presence, adequacy, and use of guarding devices to protect workers from rotating parts or other equipment. Guarding must conform to the requirements of the Regulation for Mines and Mining Plants (Reg. 854).
Written lockout procedures: Inspectors will check if crushing, screening and conveying equipment is being properly maintained and whether there are written lockout procedures.
Dust control: Inspectors will check if measures to control dust from crushing, screening, stacking, conveying and transporting activities are adequate. In some cases, hygienists will accompany inspectors to sites.
Hearing protection: Inspectors will check if hearing protection devices (HPD) are available and used at worksites to control excess exposure to noise from crushing, screening and conveying activities.