Blog Post #1456 – Workplace Fatality Results in $300,000 Fine for Mining Company Operating near Marathon

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

A worker, employed by Williams Operating Corporation, was fatally injured while performing duties at a mining operation. The accident happened at the Williams Highway Mine near Marathon, Ontario.

The Williams Operating Corp. operates the Hemlo Mine which is near the town of Marathon, Ontario. The mining operation involves the extraction of gold.

Williams directly conducts some portion of the mine’s operations and engages a variety of independent, third-party contractors to conduct other parts of the operations.

On or about July 14, 2021, power to the underground portion of the mine had been restored following a full-day shutdown for maintenance to underground electrical sub-stations.

An employee of a contractor, a worker as defined by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)was involved in the process of clearing and readying the automation zone of the mine for use by the night shift, which had just begun.

The automation zone is an area of the mine where autonomous trucks, which do not have drivers physically located on the trucks, are operated. Personnel are normally excluded from the area. The worker’s duties included ensuring there were no personnel or equipment in the area and securing all safety access gates prior to truck operations.

The worker received a call advising that an automatic gate in the area needed to be reset. The worker went to the gate and proceeded to reset it. The location to reset the gate is near what is known as the F-belt access doors.

While there was no witness to the event, it is believed the worker attempted to go through the doors and was fatally injured while doing so.

A Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development investigation determined that the air lines to the solenoid that operates the switch controlling the opening and closing of the access doors were reversed relative to other doors in the mine.

Other doors in the mine were designed to default to an open position following a power outage to facilitate easier and faster evacuation of the workers in case of an emergency. The F-belt access doors functioned in reverse of this, defaulting to a closed position following a power outage.

In these circumstances, Williams failed as an employer to ensure that door controls were installed, and the installation was maintained as designed, contrary to section 25(1)(b) of the Ontario Health and Safety Act.

Following a guilty plea in provincial offences court in Marathon, a satellite court of Thunder Bay, Williams Operating Corporation was fined $300,000 by Justice of the Peace Marcel Donio; Crown Counsel, Giuseppe Ferraro.

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:

Williams Operating Corporation was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), section 25, subsection 1(b) which states,

“An employer shall ensure that,

(b) the equipment, materials and protective devices provided by the employer are maintained in good condition.”

I wonder which person, or persons, managed to wire the door control backwards? Was it an electrician or electrical engineer? Was it the maintenance supervisor?

In any event, the company was found guilty and an employee dies.

Why do many companies not follow safe work practice?

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 

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

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





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