Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

A worker, employed by SMC (Canada) Ltd., a company that extracts and recovers precious metals in mining mills near Cobalt, Ontario, suffered a critical injury after becoming entangled in machinery. The machinery should have had a guard to prevent workers from coming into contact with moving parts.

SMC (Canada) Ltd. operates a custom feed milling operation called McAlpine Mill near the town of Cobalt. On February 7, 2019, a worker was assigned to work in the crusher house where ore is moved through the crushing process on various conveyors before being processed in the mill.

A conveyor belt in the crusher house was being started up for the day and was not working appropriately. When a conveyor belt slips and does not work as intended, belt dressing is applied to improve traction and to ensure the conveyor does not slip. 

The worker was asked by a millwright to go to the head end of the conveyor to apply belt dressing to help address the slipping belt. The worker was not given specific instructions on how to complete this task and was not directed to a designated location where the spray could be applied in a safe manner while the belt was running. Also, the head pulley area of the conveyor was not equipped with a guard to protect a worker from a pinch point.

The worker stood near the head pulley and applied a spray product while the belt was in motion. The worker was standing on a small mound of spilled loose gravel while completing this task.

While repositioning the product from one hand to the other, the worker lost footing and slipped towards the running belt, becoming entangled between the running belt and the conveyor frame. The worker suffered a critical injury as a result. The injury required transportation to Sudbury for medical attention.

Following a guilty plea on January 14, 2021, SMC (Canada) Ltd. was fined $75,000 in provincial offences court in Haileybury by Justice of the Peace T.A. Hodgins; Crown Counsel Line Forestier.

The court also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

My opinion

The law(s) in contravention:

SMC Canada Ltd. was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario Mining and Mining Plant sector regulation 854/90, section 196, subsection (2) which states,

A conveyor shall have,

(a)  a means to safely apply belt dressing while the conveyor is in motion; and

(b)  if the conveyor is started automatically, by remote control or if a portion or portions of the conveyor are not visible from the operator’s position, a start-up warning device.

This is in direct contravention of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) section 25, subsection 1(c) which states,

“An employer shall ensure that,

 (c) the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.”

Regulation 854/90 is as large as the ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91. It seems that both the ‘mining’ and ‘construction’ sectors needs to cover many aspects of the work environment and have covered off most of them.

Here we have a moving conveyor and a worker became entangled in the conveyor.

Unacceptable!

The company could also have been charged under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) section 25, subsection 2(a) which states,

“An employer shall,

(a) provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker.”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal 

CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.