TIMMINS, Ont (Canadian OH&S News)
A worker in northeastern Ontario was fatally injured in early April after he was struck by a piece of rock at an underground mine.
William Lin, a spokesman with the Ministry of Labour (MoL), says that the ministry was initially notified of a critical injury at Lake Shore Gold Corp’s Timmins West mine on April 2. “The worker was struck by a piece of loose material and rendered unconscious and taken to Timmins and District Hospital. That worker has died,” Lin says.
Two MoL inspectors were dispatched to the scene to investigate. A ground control engineer returned the following day to continue the investigation, Lin reports, adding that the scene remains secured.
No orders had been issued as of press time and the accident remains under investigation by the MoL, the Timmins branch of the Ontario Provincial Police and Lake Shore Gold’s joint health and safety committee.
Dan Gagnon, senior vice-president of operations at the company, says Trevor King was working as part of a crew and struck by the piece of rock while loading a development round on the 730-metre level of the mine. Such rounds are typically placed into holes where blasting occurs.
The mine was voluntarily shut down by the company for a couple of days “and production will resume in the next day or so when we have had good safety discussions. We have been focusing on communication and providing counselling to our employees,” Gagnon says. Operations resumed on April 5.
“This is a tragic event and loss,” says Tony Makuch, president and CEO of Lake Shore Gold Corp, in a statement. “We are concentrating our efforts on supporting the family and our employees at the mine site and on investigating the incident to understand exactly what occurred. Our focus has always been and will remain on the health and safety of our people.”
Rick Bertrand, president of Local 6500 of the United Steelworkers Canada (USW) union in Sudbury, Ontario, is calling for a public inquiry into mining in general in the province, noting that there has not been a public inquiry in about three decades.
“There’s been a lot of changes in 30 years,” he says. “The inquiry, we really need it more than ever because of this, and why is it happening so often lately? We just don’t know,” Bertrand says, adding that there have been about a half dozen mining fatalities in northeastern Ontario in less than a year.
Accident similar to another recent mine fatality
Bertrand points to the similarities between the latest accident and one that took place on January 29 in Levack, Ontario, approximately an hour northwest of Sudbury. At about noon, 47-year-old miner Stephen Perry was working more than 1,200 metres below ground at Vale Limited’s Coleman nickel mine when rock in the passage fell and crushed him (COHSN February 6, 2012). Perry was using a machine to load an ammonium nitrate/fuel oil blasting agent into the rock in an area being developed for future mining.
The 16-year employee of Vale was brought to the surface, where he was pronounced dead. The fatality prompted Vale to temporarily suspend operations at all five of its mines in the Sudbury area.
The USW has completed its own investigation into the incident. Results of the MoL investigation are expected in June.