Ontario mine operators should be aware that the Ontario Ministry
of Labour (MOL) is once again increasing its enforcement of the
Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act) in mining
operations1 in July and August 2013 as part of the
province's Safe at Work Ontario compliance initiative.
This initiative has seen monthly, targeted inspections (also
known as blitzes) of workplaces in key economic sectors since June
The purpose of the current blitz is to reinforce the internal
responsibility system (IRS) in Ontario mines. The IRS is
considered the foundation of health and safety compliance in
Ontario. Its goal is to promote shared responsibility for
health and safety in the workplace. This goal is advanced by
placing primary responsibility for health and safety on the
workplace parties. The MOL enforces the Act when the IRS
During this blitz, the MOL will check, in particular, that:
employers have posted a health and safety policy in the
workplace that has been reviewed annually;
employers have a program in place to implement the health and
workers are aware of the health and safety policy; and
a properly functioning joint health and safety committee or
health and safety representative is in place, where required.
The results of the blitz will be posted on the MOL's website
approximately four months after the blitz. These results will
include the number of workplaces visited, the number of compliance
orders issued and the number of stop-work orders issued.
Two further MOL blitzes have already been scheduled for the
mining sector: one targeting ground control in October 2013 and a
second targeting locking and tagging in mine hoisting plants in
January and February 2014.
These enforcement measures reflect a pattern of concern for mine
safety in Ontario as the MOL has conducted two mining blitzes a
year for the last five years.
The Act gives MOL inspectors broad powers to inspect
provincially regulated workplaces to ensure compliance with the Act
and its regulations. These powers may be exercised at any
time, not merely pursuant to a blitz. The powers of an MOL
inspector include the ability to:
enter any workplace at any time without prior notice or a
take any machine, device, article or thing from the
require the production of any written documents or
take copies of any written document or drawings;
test machinery and equipment or require the employer to pay an
expert to test machinery or equipment; and
conduct private interviews of workers and others in the
workplace without the right to legal counsel.
Failure to comply with the Act or its regulations can result in
severe penalties. An individual convicted of an offence under the
Act can be fined up to $25,000 and/or imprisoned for up to 12
months. The maximum fine for a corporation convicted of an
offence is $500,000. Any monetary penalty of more than $1,000
is subject to a 25% victim fine surcharge. Furthermore,
penalties are imposed for each violation for which a conviction is
registered. It is therefore extremely important to be aware
of the statutory obligations imposed by the Act and, for mine
operators, the Mines and Mining Plants regulations enacted
1 Including surface mines, mining plants, underground
mines, new and recently reopened mines, and mines with a poor
history of compliance with the Act.
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