An alarm system that could have warned three workers about dangerous water levels was disconnected when they drowned at a Quebec mine, last October 30, 2009. The company, Metanor Resources Ltd., sent the three miners down the shaft in an elevator at the Bachelor Lake gold mine in Desmaraisville, Quebec. They were there to help rehabilitate a mine shaft. The miners entered the cage on the six level and headed toward the 12th but encountered water about halfway through the 10th level. The elevator operator grew concerned when the workers did not signal that they reached their destination.
It took rescue workers three days to recover the miners, whose bodies were frozen in blocks of ice.
The three suspected causes of the accident are as follows:
1) There was a leak at the junction of the two pipes at the mines’ water-pumping system that caused the flooding;
2) A water alarm system was disconnected; and
3) The miners entered the shaft without knowing the level of water in the mine.
It was reported that in Quebec, “It is required that a mine elevator complete a test run while empty before being used to transport workers.” It seems this was not done.
The fatal accident spurred a mine safety blitz across Quebec to ensure that all water detection systems are operational as part of an integrated safety system. The blitz found the vast majority were found to be safe.
The fines were expected to be around the $50,000 mark. Unbelievable! The dollar value on a man’s life has been decided to be close to about a year’s wages? Again, Ontario has shown the way by having personal fines up to $25,000 to individuals and up to $500.000 to corporations. The ACT also allows for up to a year in jail as well. The higher fines continue to be a deterrent to unscrupulous companies taking up residence here, those with a poor safety record.
Safety is not something you wake up one morning and state, “I will be safe today”, or “my company is going to work safely today”. Safety is a frame of mind and its philosophy has to be infused from the very top of the corporation on down. It is too bad that Metanor did not understand their responsibility until too late and put in a new fail safe alarm system. The three miners and their families would tell you, too little, too late!
HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs inculding “Due Diligence”. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
We can also be reached at email@example.com
Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.