Mining firm, officials fined $136,000 after workers injured in rock fall

J.S. Redpath Ltd. and two of its supervisors have been found guilty and fined a total of $136,000 after one worker suffered critical injuries and another worker suffered minor injuries from falling rock at the Cochenour Mine in Red Lake.

The incident took place on August 4, 2013 while the two workers were being transported by a mechanized raise climber (MRC) up a ventilation raise (a vertical opening underground) to the face of rock where work was being performed. The workers had earlier completed drilling and explosives had been detonated. They were travelling back to the face to resume work. After they had travelled about 30 feet up the raise, rocks started to fall onto the MRC.

One of the workers was struck by rock and suffered injuries. The critically injured worker became unconscious; the other threw items out of the basket they were riding in so as to attract the attention of an operator working at the bottom of the raise. Mine personnel were able to rescue the two miners after about three hours.

Philip Parrott was superintendent at the Cochenour mine and had charge of the workplace; Robert Beldock was the shift supervisor for the workers working in the raise.

The company was found guilty of failing, contrary to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to ensure that the worker who became unconscious had been properly registered in a training program to work on the mechanized raise climber in the ventilation raise. This was a violation of Section 11(2) of Ontario Regulation 854 (Mines and Mining Plants Regulation).

The company was also found guilty of failing to ensure that the area where drilling and blasting were carried on was examined by a supervisor during each work shift. This was a violation of Section 63(1) of Ontario Regulation 854.

The company was further convicted of failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to the workers by failing to ensure that job task observations of a crew driving a raise were made by a supervisor or trainer. The company was fined a total of $125,000 for the three offences.

Parrott, as a supervisor, was convicted of failing to take the reasonable precaution of having a supervisor or trainer conduct job task observations and failing to ensure that he or another supervisor visited a ventilation raise where drilling and blasting was being carried on during each work shift. Beldock was also convicted of the latter charge as a supervisor.

In addition, Parrott and Beldock were both convicted under Section 27(1)(b) of the OHSA for failing as supervisors to ensure that a worker used the equipment or protective devices that the worker’s employer required to be used – in this case, safety nets which were designed to protect workers from falling loose rock hazards while climbing onto an MRC platform. The court determined that they failed to ensure the use of safety nets provided by Redpath and required by the company’s safety procedures.

Parrott was fined $6,000 in total for the three offences and Beldock was fined $5,000 in total for the two offences.

The decision was reached by Justice of the Peace Danalyn J. MacKinnon after nine days at trial. The fines were imposed in Kenora court on May 12, 2016.

In addition to the fines, the court 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. – CINEWS

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