A new mining health and safety training video “Respirable Hazards – Mining” aims to raise awareness about how workers are affected by respirable hazards found in underground mines. The seven-minute video was released by the Ontario mining health and safety association Workplace Safety North (WSN), in collaboration with NORCAT.
In 2015, sixteen workers died from occupational disease in the Ontario mining sector. A worker’s environment today can negatively affect their health 10, 20, and even 30 years later. Watch how contaminants like silica dust and diesel exhaust attack the body causing serious illness, including silicosis and lung related cancers, and learn strategies to minimize worker risk.
“Occupational illnesses in mining are often silent killers because there aren’t any signs or symptoms. People only become ill years after exposure due to the slow development of these types of diseases,” says Jason Chevrier, WSN Industrial Hygiene and Ventilation Specialist. “That’s why it’s so important for companies to put controls in place to better protect workers, and for workers to follow them.”
Employers are responsible to ensure all workplace hazards are assessed and controlled depending on their health and safety impact. Mining workers can limit their exposure to harmful contaminants by washing down muck piles during mucking operations, and ensuring the area is properly ventilated. Examples of other ways to limit exposure include the use of diesel particulate filters on diesel engine exhaust systems, enclosed operator cabs, and cleaner engines to help reduce diesel particulate matter emissions.
“Ultimately the highest level of control is to eliminate contaminants all together,” says Chevrier, “and this can be achieved, for example, by having workers blast safely from the surface, and by replacing diesel-powered equipment with battery-powered equipment.”
“We’re pleased to partner with WSN to offer this free resource,” says Jason Bubba, NORCAT Director of Training and Development. “This is a great video to help educate workers about the risks associated with respirable hazards found in underground mining. We’re encouraging all mining companies and workers to share this important information.”
Although fatalities from injuries in the mining sector have declined, deaths related to occupational disease have not. The 2015 Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review identified occupational disease as one of the top five hazards in underground mining.