MRO Magazine

Ontario targets hazards affecting air in underground mines


October 19, 2011
By PEM Magazine

Ontario will target hazards affecting clean air in underground mines across the province.

In October and November, a mining safety blitz will check ventilation systems and diesel equipment to ensure mine workers have an adequate supply of clean air. The blitz will focus on:

  • maintenance of ventilation systems and diesel equipment; and
  • workplace air sampling by employers.

Protecting mine workers is part of the government’s continued commitment to prevent workplace injuries and illness through its Safe at Work Ontario strategy.

Ventilation hazards pose a serious concern in underground mines, many of which operate diesel equipment. The air in poorly ventilated mines can contain toxins, which can cause occupational disease and even death.


Between 2005 and 2009, 176 workers died and another 36 workers developed occupational diseases related to respiratory illnesses in the mining sector, according to claim information from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

Inspectors will target underground mines that use diesel equipment. This includes:

  • Mines with large fleets of diesel equipment operating in the underground environment
  • Recently reopened or new mines operating diesel equipment
  • Mines where previous ventilation concerns were observed, and
  • Mines with a poor health and safety compliance history.

Since 2008, Ontario safety inspectors have made more than 266,000 field visits and conducted 34 inspection blitzes. Inspectors have issued more than 425,000 compliance orders since 2008.