Workers, families and communities counting on meaningful and timely
action from mining safety review, USW says.
SUDBURY, ON, Dec. 4, 2013 /CNW/ - Miners, families and our communities
are counting on a comprehensive review of mining safety in Ontario to
produce timely and meaningful change, the United Steelworkers (USW)
"This review is happening because workers, their families and
communities have demanded that the Ontario government recognize that
too many miners have been killed or injured on the job," said USW Local
6500 President Rick Bertrand.
"We are all counting on this review to produce timely and meaningful
action to significantly improve health and safety in our industry,"
said Bertrand, whose local represents 2,600 workers at Vale's mining
operations in Sudbury.
The Ontario Ministry of Labour has decided to launch a Mining Health,
Safety and Prevention Review following months of advocacy and lobbying
by the USW and the MINES Committee, which includes families of miners
killed at work.
Thousands of Ontarians signed on to the MINES Committee's campaign
calling on the province to hold a commission of inquiry into mining
health and safety.
Ontario's Liberal government resisted an inquiry, with Labour Minister
Yasir Naqvi insisting a comprehensive review would produce the same
results sought by inquiry advocates.
"After extensive discussions with the labour minister and his staff, we
have reached agreement on a process that promises to address our
concerns and produce effective improvements," said Marty Warren, the
USW's Ontario Director.
"Now all parties must act in good faith for this review to fulfill its
profound mandate - to ensure miners go home safely to their families at
the end of the work day," Warren said.
Stronger health and safety laws and regulations also are crucial in
light of new mining development expected in coming years, particularly
in Northern Ontario's mineral-rich Ring of Fire region, Warren added.
The mine safety review's terms of reference reflect serious health and
safety issues identified by the Steelworkers, including findings from
the union's landmark investigation into the June 2011 deaths of Sudbury
miners Jordan Fram and Jason Chenier.
The USW investigation found the deaths of Fram and Chenier could have
been avoided and that Vale had ignored numerous safety issues at its
The review's terms of reference also reflect issues raised by other
recent mining fatalities, including the 2007 death of Lyle Dufoe at the
Kidd Creek Mine in Timmins.
Concrete issues identified in the review's terms of reference that
require meaningful action include:
Ground stability and water management practices
Open holes, proper barricades and warning systems
Technological changes affecting health and safety in underground mines
The so-called internal responsibility system and employer/labour
Capacity of Ministry of Labour staff to meet enforcement and regulatory
The review has a mandate to recommend changes to provincial legislation
and regulations. Although a final report is expected within one year,
the review can call for legislative and regulatory changes at any time
while the process in underway.
"The review's mandate indicates that we can expect meaningful action
within months, not years, to improve health and safety," Bertrand
"Our miners, families and communities are counting on fundamental
legislative and regulatory change that will eliminate hazards, hold
corporations to account and prevent injuries and fatalities," he said.
The review will be chaired by George Gritziotis, the Ontario
government's Chief Prevention Officer.
Details of Ontario's Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review:
To be chaired by George Gritziotis, Ontario's Chief Prevention Officer,
with two vice-chairs - one from labour and the other representing
Labour, employer and government representatives also will work on an
advisory task group to provide advice on various issues.
Open and broad consultations with workers, employers, academics, health
and safety organizations and other interested parties in Ontario's
Examination of methods for effective conflict resolution between
employers and workers with regard to mining health and safety
Study of best practices in other jurisdictions and emerging research
into mining practices.
Examination of results and implementation of recommendations from
previous mining-related coroners' jury reports and mining inquiries.
A final report will be due in one year, but recommendations for health
and safety improvements can be made at any time, including while the
review is in proces
SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information:
Rick Bertrand, USW Local 6500 President, 705-675-3381
Marty Warren, USW District 6 Director, 416-243-8792
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, firstname.lastname@example.org