·  Media release

Mine Safety Report a Good First Step, More Progress Needed

TORONTO - An interim report from Ontario's Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review is a good first step and more must be done to improve health and safety in the mining industry, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.

"We commend the work of the advisory group that produced this initial progress report," said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

"We look forward to the advisory group's final report early next year and trust that the recommendations ultimately made in that report will address water management as a top priority among other important matters to be addressed," Warren said.

The progress report released Thursday recommends a new "guideline" calling for high-visibility apparel for workers in underground mines.

Such a guideline is a good start, but the province ultimately should pass a regulation to ensure greater use of high-visibility apparel underground, the USW says.

"There have been numerous injuries and fatalities underground because mobile equipment operators could not see co-workers walking in their path," said Sylvia Boyce, USW Health and Safety Coordinator in Ontario.

"A guideline, which is based on best practices, is not enforceable. Without a regulation, employers can't be forced to implement the improvements," Boyce said.

"We encourage the Mining Legislative Review Committee to quickly act on this issue and bring forth a recommendation to the Minister of Labour for quick implementation of a regulation."

The USW supports a recommendation for an expanded database to preserve mining health, safety and medical records. The union is calling for preservation of more comprehensive historical records, including miners' chest x-rays and pulmonary function tests, as well as measures to capture data for current and future workers.

The USW also welcomes another recommendation for a study to eliminate the harmful effects of foot vibration on miners. However, a more comprehensive study is needed into mitigating the debilitating effects of whole body vibration experienced by workers who operate mobile equipment in mines, the union says.

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For further information:

Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director, 416-243-8792
Sylvia Boyce, USW Ontario Health and Safety Coordinator, 905-741-9830, sboyce@usw.ca
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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