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Special thanks to our summer associate Keyonna Trojcak for contributing to this blog.

On July 1, 2023, Ontario implemented a number of amendments to Regulation 854 – Mines and Mining Plants under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. Effective September 1, 2023, additional requirements will take effect.

The Regulation has and will create many new safety obligations for employers in Ontario’s mining industry, and will increase the requirements for safety policies and procedures in mining operations across Ontario. You can find the newest version of the Regulation with all of the changes here.

Summary of Key Changes Effective July 1, 2023

  • Flammable Hazards: Oil, grease and flammable liquids must be stored or transported in metal containers, receptacles or portable containers or safety cans that are government-approved when being used underground.
  • Ladderways: Where a worker could fall more than three meters, a ladderway should be fixed in place with a safety cage and a protective device to prevent the worker from falling. Furthermore, if a ladderway is seven meters or longer and at an angle step greater than 70 degrees, the ladderway needs to have platforms at intervals not greater than seven meters.
  • Mine Design: Mine designs must now be prepared under the direction of an engineer, instead of a “competent person.” Mine designs will also be required to describe both the geology and geotechnical aspects of the mine.
  • Power Sources: Independently powered conveyances used instead of a ladderway must have a source of power that is independent of the main power source of the mine, and must be capable of safely transferring persons through the shaft to a location they can use to safely exit the shaft. These must be readily available for use.

Summary of Key Changes Effective September 1, 2023

  • Airborne Hazard Management: Employers at a mine or mining plant, in consultation with the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative, must develop and maintain a written airborne hazard management program.
  • Diesel-Powered Equipment: Employers must keep records of all diesel-powered equipment they use; and they must document the volume of air flowing in the spaces where the equipment is working.
  • Engineer Requirements: Owners of mining plants must ensure that engineers review and sign off on any drawings, plans or specifications that involve the practice of engineering.
  • Explosives: Employers must develop procedures that set out how access to explosives will be controlled, how explosive inventory will be managed, and the security of explosives.
  • Exposure to Harmful Substances: Time weighted average exposure to elemental carbon must not exceed 0.12 milligrams per cubic meter of air. Employers must also test the undiluted exhaust discharge from diesel-powered equipment to ensure it contains less than 600 parts per million by volume of carbon monoxide and less than 60 parts per million by volume of nitrogen dioxide.
  • Hazard Management: Employers of mines or mining plants must consult with the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative to create and maintain written procedures for managing hazards associated with heat stress and cold stress in the workplace.
  • Seismic Risk: Owners of underground mines must develop and maintain a seismic risk management program.
  • Ventilation Systems: Underground mines and mining plant buildings must have mechanical ventilation systems. Employers must keep detailed plans and records of the ventilation systems at these locations.

Key Takeaways

The updated mining Regulation strengthens protections for Ontario’s miners. Along with the government’s proposal to significantly increase corporate fines (see here), the Regulation reflects the government’s increased focus on improving occupational health and safety protections while penalizing non-compliance in a substantial manner.

We are advising impacted employers with developing appropriate policies and protocols, please contact a member of our team if you’d like assistance complying with the new (and upcoming) requirements.