OHS Canada Magazine

Gold mine in northern Ontario fined $300,000 in death of worker

Avatar photo

December 4, 2022
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety fatal accident Mining OHS Fines ontario

Photo: Mishainik/Adobe Stock

A gold mine in northern Ontario has been ordered to pay $300,000, plus a 25 per cent victim surcharge, in the death of a contractor in 2021 — bringing the total amount to $375,000.

The accident occurred at the Hemlo Mine, run by Williams Operating Corporation, near the town of Marathon, Ont.

Williams directly conducts some portion of the mine’s operations and engages a variety of independent, third-party contractors to conduct other parts of the operations, the province said.

What happened

On or about July 14, 2021, power to the underground portion of the mine had been restored following a full-day shutdown for maintenance to underground electrical sub-stations.

An employee of a contractor, a worker as defined by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) according to the province, was involved in the process of clearing and readying the automation zone of the mine for use by the night shift, which had just begun.


Autonomous trucks

The automation zone is an area of the mine where autonomous trucks, which do not have drivers physically located on the trucks, are operated. Personnel are normally excluded from the area.

The worker’s duties included ensuring there were no personnel or equipment in the area and securing all safety access gates prior to truck operations.

The worker received a call advising that an automatic gate in the area needed to be reset. The worker went to the gate and proceeded to reset it.

The location to reset the gate is near what is known as the F-belt access doors.

While there was no witness to the event, it is believed the worker attempted to go through the doors and was fatally injured while doing so.

Air lines to solenoid reversed

A Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development investigation determined that the air lines to the solenoid that operates the switch controlling the opening and closing of the access doors were reversed relative to other doors in the mine.

Other doors in the mine were designed to default to an open position following a power outage to facilitate easier and faster evacuation of the workers in case of an emergency. The F-belt access doors functioned in reverse of this, defaulting to a closed position following a power outage.

In these circumstances, Williams failed as an employer to ensure that door controls were installed, and the installation was maintained as designed, contrary to section 25(1)(b) of the Ontario Health and Safety Act, the province said.

The company pled guilty to the charges.


Stories continue below