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Mining review update marks grim 5th anniversary

Jun 7, 2016

 
Ontario's chief prevention officer will be in Sudbury on Wednesday to discuss new mining regulations as well as progress on recommendations from the Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review.
 
George Gritziotis will speak to reporters on the fifth anniversary of the deaths of Jordan Fram, 26, and Jason Chenier, 35. The men died June 8, 2011at Vale's Stobie Mine when they were overcome by a run of 350 tons of muck.
 
Investigations showed there was excess water in the 100-year-old Stobie Mine and that warnings about unsafe working conditions given by Chenier, who was a supervisor, were not heeded.
 
Vale and one of its supervisors faced more than a dozen charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for infractions relating to excess water and other hazards.
 
Charges were later dropped against the supervisor, but Vale Canada Ltd. was fined more than $1 million, one of the largest penalties levied against a company for infractions of the act.
 
A damning investigation report by United Steelworkers Local 6500 sparked the creation of a group called MINES (Mining Inquiry Needs Everyone's Support). The group formed to lobby the Government of Ontario to hold a full inquiry into the deaths of the two young men. MINES was led by Wendy and Briana Fram, the mother and sister of Jordan.
 
Instead, the Liberal government and then Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi launched a mining review, led by Gritziotis. The position of chief prevention officer was created after a deadly scaffolding collapse in 2009 in which four men fell to their deaths. A fifth worker suffered serious injuries. Another worker, the only one properly harnessed, was left suspended in mid-air but was not injured.
 
Vadim Kazenelson was convicted a year ago in June on four counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
 
The construction company involved in the case, Metron Construction Corp., pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death and was fined $750,000. It was the first time in Ontario the Criminal Code had been used to hold a company responsible for a worker’s death.
 
One of the recommendations of the USW investigation into the deaths of Chenier and Fram was that officers with companies be charged criminally under the Westray provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada if they caused the deaths of workers through negligence or other conditions.
 
Gritziotis led the 15-month Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review, the committee for which was comprised of representatives from labour, industry and government. Several public meetings were held throughout Ontario and written submissions were also accepted.
 
Gritziotis presented the final review to Labour Minister Kevin Flynn at the 2015 Workplace Safety North Mining and Safety Conference in April. At the same conference this year, Gritziotis gave a progress report on the 18 recommendations of his review.
 
One was that the Mining Legislative Review Committee align its work with the major hazards identified in a mining sector risk assessment. As a result, the MLRC struck three new sub-committees based on hazards identified in the review process.
 
The review committee pointed out more than 200 hazards in mining, as many as 40 of them relating to ground control or ground instability.
 
Gritziotis said five of the top 10 risks identified in underground mines in the report were ground control. Ground control was top of mind earlier this year at a coroner's inquest into the Jan. 29, 2012 death of development miner Stephen Perry, 47, at Vale's Coleman Mine in Levack. The first of 10 recommendations made by the jury at that inquest related to ground control.
 
An inquest was held into the deaths of Chenier and Fram in April 2015. It produced 24 recommendations to improve mine safety.
 
The jury accepted eight recommendations presented by coroner Dr. David Eden and suggested 16 more its own. Some were about implementing the mining review recommendations, particularly those relating to water management and the internal responsibility system.
 
CMulligan@postmedia.com
 
Twitter @CarolDMulligan
 

Source: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2016/06/07/mining-review-update-marks-grim-5th-anniversary