Excerpt from the OH&S Canada Magazine

Two workers at a potash mine in Esterhazy, Saskatchewan were injured, one fatally, on November 28, 2010 when a raw ore bin’s bottom collapsed and the material spilled out.

A 28-year-old worker at The Mosaic Company’s K-2 mine, about three hours east of Regina, died, and another employee, 40, sustained non-critical injuries in the 2 am incident.

Brad DeLorey, director of public affairs for The Mosaic Company in Saskatchewan, reported in early December that it was not known what caused the bin bottom to break off and how much material was inside at the time. “We will get to the bottom of this. That’s why we have been working so diligently with the government [inspection] officials,” DeLorey said.

Three mine inspectors attended after being notified at 5:30 am, and stayed there until the afternoon of November 29, says Glennis Bihun, executive director of the OH&S branch within Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Labour in Regina.

Speaking generally about ore bin designs, Bihun says the containers are often similar to round grain bins. Constructed from heavy steel and having cone-shaped bottoms, ore bins are typically freestanding structures supported by buildings. Vibrating feeders draw the ore from the bins and onto conveyor belts, Bihun reports.

Following the incident, DeLorey says that The Mosaic Company suspended operations in the immediate area and redeployed employees to other parts of the mine. Counseling, as well, was made available to workers and their families.

The time-loss injury rate (time-loss claims divided by the number of workers covered) for Saskatchewan’s potash mining sector climbed from 1.39 to 2.05 per cent between 2007 and 2008, but remained below the 2008 average of 3.7 per cent for all industries.

My opinion

I am going to begin keeping a sharper eye on our friends in Saskatchewan. The results from this accident are going to give us a good indication how important the province of Saskatchewan holds their employees’ safety. I hope they hold it in higher regard than they do in Alberta.

I wonder if the manufacturer or fabricator has been contacted about the product. There looks to be evidence that the bin may not have been robust enough for this particular application. Maybe the defect was in the design; maybe not. Maybe the weight limitations were exceeded and not known. There are so many questions and few answers. It would go well for the province to deal with this issue firmly with no bias so that a more permanent corrective action plan can take place to prevent a recurrence. The Ontario Ministry of Labour works hard towards that goal so why doesn’t the provincial government of Saskatchewan.

Remember — In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

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

We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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