Health & Safety

Ontario is one of the safest mining jurisdictions in the world and mining is one of the safest industries in Ontario, achieving a 96% improvement in lost time injury frequency over the past 30 years.

The Ontario Mining Association and its members collectively pursue zero harm in all business endeavours, seek to strengthen the Internal Responsibility System and to achieve reasonable, science-based legislation and regulation which enhances employee safety and supports production.

Safe production is fundamental to Ontario mineral operations.  The industry embraces the use of an integrated approach to the management of health, safety and the economic, technical and social processes of its businesses.  

Success is a direct consequence of the sector's commitment to maintaining the highest health and safety standards possible. The ultimate goal for any Ontario mining company is to achieve a zero-incident work environment. To that end, mining companies devote themselves to promoting an ingrained workplace safety culture by training employees, engaging in risk management, measuring performance, rewarding achievement, sharing information and adopting best practices.  Frequent exposure to new information keeps mine workers focused on staying safe and healthy, while recognition programs for safety achievement, such as the John T. Ryan National Safety Trophy, strengthen company aspirations for continuous improvement.

Ontario Milestones in Mining Health and Safety

1890     Mining Operations Act: Rules are established for ventilation, blasting, manholes, lifting devices, shafts, signals, brakes, machinery and boilers.
1912     Mining Act: New requirements for care and handling of explosives, ladderways, shafts, hoists, scaling equipment, signals, dressing rooms, first aid, dust protection, electricity and worker refuge places.
1914      Workmen's Compensation Act: The Workmen's Compensation Board is established with responsibility for worker compensation and rehabilitation.
1920    Ontario Mining Association is established
1929   Ontario Mine Rescue created under the Department of Mines
1930   Mines Accident Prevention Association of Ontario created (now Workplace Safety North)
1976             The Report of the Royal Commission on the Health and Safety of Workers in Mines   (The Ham Report) is published, introducing the Internal Responsibility System whereby all parties in the workplace contribute to detecting and correcting workplace anomalies that can lead to injury and illness.
1978    Occupational Health and Safety Act
1979   Mandatory specialized training established: Common Core / Specialized Skills for Underground Hard Rock Mining
1982   Burkett Commission report on mine safety leads to a governance model for incident investigations
1985   Stevenson Commission on mine safety results in improved training and communication
1988   Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is established
2015   Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review  

Click here for more information, or view our Evolution of Mining infographic

Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review

In 2014-2015, the Ontario government, in cooperation with the Ontario mining industry and labour, conducted a comprehensive underground mining health, safety and prevention review led by Ontario's Chief Prevention Officer (CPO). The review examined a number of topics to help ensure an even stronger and safer underground mining sector, with the CPO receiving expert advice and strategic input from an advisory group of industry, labour, and health and safety representatives.

The advisory group was established to ensure the public's and stakeholders' views were reflected in the review. A series of six working groups dedicated to important health and safety topics, as decided in consultation with our advisory group, explored ways to improve health and safety in the underground mining sector. These working groups were composed of participants representing labour and employers, supported, when necessary, by subject matter experts. Each group focused on the issues related to their specific topic and suggested ways forward to improve the health and safety for Ontario's underground miners.

The working groups reported to the CPO and the Advisory Group in early 2015. The valuable input of the working groups was considered by the Chief Prevention Officer with the advice of the Advisory Group in the drafting of the final report. As part of the review, the Ministry of Labour held public consultations across Ontario and accepted written submissions between March and June 2014. Consultation feedback was considered by the Chief Prevention Officer, the advisory group and the working groups during the course of the review.

The final report contained 18 recommendations that are being implemented by the Ministry of Labour and other health and safety system partners including the Ontario Mining Association and Workplace Safety North.

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The Mining Legislative Review Committee (MLRC) and its subcommittees, are key components of Ontario's ongoing improvement in mining health and safety. The MLRC, which is chaired by the provincial government and co-chaired by employer and labour representatives, advises the Minister of Labour on legislative and regulatory actions that will promote the health of workers and safe working conditions in Ontario mines. In addition to the MLRC, the development of company joint health and safety committees enable management and workers to address safety issues and procedures in the workplace. 

Measuring Health and Safety

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) compiles and issues annual statistical reports regarding injury and illnesses, calculating a Lost Time Injury (LTI) rate based on claims created when "a worker suffers a work-related injury/disease which results in being off work past the day of accident, loss of wages/earnings or a permanent disability/impairment" (WSIB). WSIB classifies the industries shown in the figure below as schedule 1 employers and indicates their 2015 LTI average rate was 0.85. Of these 16 industry sectors, seven sectors were above this rate, nine were below. In 2015, mining performed better than the LTI industry average, with a rate of 0.63 - down from 1.81 in 2002. 

Schedule 1 - Lost Time Injury Rates by Industry SectorLTI rates

In 2016, Ontario's mining industry met its zero-fatality objective. This is a significant achievement, marking yet another step toward achieving zero harm - the top priority for all Ontario miners. Read more

The mining industry's health and safety culture often extends beyond the mine site. From funding healthcare facilities to partnering with non-governmental organizations to deliver education programs, or sponsoring community events, Ontario mining companies improve access to healthcare and information not just for their employees, but  also for their families and the wider community.

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Learn more:

Workplace Safety North 
Safe at Work Ontario (Ontario Ministry of Labour) 
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board - Ontario 
Minerals Industry Risk Management Gateway 
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety 
The Canadian Encyclopedia - Mining Safety and Health  

Ontario mining health and safety inforgraphic