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Given 8, Stobie jury returns 24 ways to make mines safer

“We’re very happy with the outcome,” said Briana Fram, Jordan's sister. “We feel that everything was covered and were are very proud with the work that jury did, along with our stand-in’s, Vale and the Ministry of Labour.
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Briana Fram, the sister of Jordan Fram and the spokesperson for the Fram and Chenier families, speaks with reporters after the inquest wrapped today. Photo by Patrick Demers

“We’re very happy with the outcome,” said Briana Fram, Jordan's sister. “We feel that everything was covered and were are very proud with the work that jury did, along with our stand-in’s, Vale and the Ministry of Labour.”

Fram spoke on behalf of her family. She said she believes her brother would be happy with the outcome, too.

“I think my brother would be very proud at the work that we’ve done, and you saw how much he was loved within that inquest. I think people will take these to heart, and work towards making everything safe for everyone.”

Chenier and Fram died on June 8, 2011 after an uncontrolled run of muck overcame the two at Vale’s Stobie Mine.

After years of fighting for an inquest and finally securing one, Fram said the family is relieved that the process has come to an end.

“The inquest process was very difficult, to relive those moments, and to hear his last minutes, we were never able to hear what he did in his last few minutes,” she said. “So we were relieved to hear some of the wonderful stories that his co-workers shared with him.

“It is a very overwhelming feeling, it feels like the doors are now closed. Everything is over, we can now move on and grieve as a family once again,” Fram added.

But, she said, this won’t be the end of the process for the Fram or Chenier families.

“We hope that (the recommendations) are implemented and that other mines in Ontario and throughout Canada read these recommendations and implement some of them themselves.”

Sixteen of the recommendations were directed to the Ministry of Labour, one to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, and one to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Five recommendations were specifically aimed at Vale.

“Some of the recommendations that were presented today are new to us, so we’re going to have to go back and consider those very carefully,” said Angie Robson, Vale’s Manager of Corporate Affairs, Ontario Operations. “But we are certainly committed to doing what we can to prevent an incident from happening again.”

The 24th and final recommendation was an endorsement of 42 recommendations that were indentified by the Vale and USW mining review as outlined in the Stobie Fatality Recommendations.

The family, the Steelworkers Union and Vale had high praise for the four-person jury, who could have stayed pat and accepted the eight original recommendations, but instead agreed with the eight and tacked on 15 more.

“The jury, hats off to them, these are not mining people, they seemed to figure it out that these recommendations are important,” said Mike Bond, USW Local 6500 Health and Safety chair. “I also believe that the recommendations open the door to a lot of safety work, and open a door that will provide the work to prevent further injury and deaths.”

“I think everyone should be encouraged — the jury took this very seriously,” said Robson. “They considered the evidence that was presented very carefully, and they came up with a number of very thoughtful recommendations that we’ll be certainly taking a very close look at.”

There is no guarantee the recommendations will be implemented, said Bond, but added the union will work to pressure the ministries named, as well as the company, to put them into practice.

“We’re going to stay on them and we hope that the Ministry of Labour endorses these and puts the time and the money and the people — all the resources — into their part of the recommendations to fulfill them and make it safer,” Bond said.

 

The final recommendations:

1.) It is recommended that the Ministry of Labour implement the recommendations contained in the Mining, Health, Safety and Prevention Review regarding water management in a mine and the Internal Responsibility System(IRS).

2.) It is recommended to the Ministry of Labour that a Supervisor be required to attend workplaces every work shift, where high risk tasks are being performed, such as ore handling or water management.

3.) It is recommended that the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, and the Chief Coroner of Ontario strongly encourage any party who has been subject of a recommendation by an inquest jury to submit a written response within one year. It is encouraged that the response or lack of response is made public. When a recommendation is directed to an employer, responses are encouraged to be shared with the Joint Health and Safety Committee of the employer involved.

4.) It is recommended to the Ministry of Labour that if a hazardous condition is recognized in an underground mine and the area is barricaded, no work shall take place except for work authorized by a supervisor for the purpose of correcting the hazardous condition. Any work authorized shall be recorded in the shift log.

5.) It is recommended to the Ministry of Labour that no worker shall be positioned so that he or she may be endangered by an uncontrolled run of material, water or slime, while operating controls for moving material.

6.) It is recommended to the Ministry of Labour, that a database be formed and maintained containing all field visits and Coroner’s Inquest recommendations in the Province of Ontario. The database should be made available to Ministry of Labour inspectors at all times. The database should be reviewed during inspector training.

7.) It is recommended that the Ministry of Labour require employers to provide annual training to be jointly developed by the employer and the Joint Health and Safety Committee or the Worker Representative and presented to the relevant employees, on the following 1) water management, where applicable; 2) duties of workplace parties; and 3) work refusal/training.

8.) It is recommended that Vale jointly develop through the safety Health Environment Executive Committee (SHEEC), a training program for the All Mines Standards.

9.) It is recommended that the Ministry of Labour conduct an investigation into optimal material conditions, including the ratio or moisture and fines in a mixture and establish a policy for Ontario mines to follow. We are concerned that the consistency of material in mines seems to be based on personal opinion rather than facts.

10.) It is recommended to the Ministry of Labour that, where necessary for worker safety, blast holes be either filled or capped to prevent water from entering an ore pass.

11.) It is recommended to the Ministry of Labour that standardized signs be placed at all drain holes, open blast holes, capped blast holes, ore passes, raises, shafts, sumps and air vents and that they be placed in such a way that they are not blocked by material or water accumulation. This would ensure that all workers, supervisors, contractors, inspectors or visitors, etc., are aware of where the holes are situated.

12.) It is recommended to the Ministry of Labour to review and define the requirements for dealing with routine wet material situations, including treatment of slimes and consistency of material permitted to be dumped into ore passes.

13.) It is recommended to the Ministry of Labour that the Mines and Mining Plans Regulation 854.84 subsection 3 be amended to include the terms stop, raise, ore pass and open brow.

14.) It is recommended to the Ministry of Labour that the Mines and Mining Plans 854.63 Subsection 2 be amended to include inactive or abandoned areas.

15.) It is recommended that the Ministry of Labour include a regulation to measure wet/dry material before and after dumping material into a chute, raise or ore pass and that these measurements be recorded. For example, a measurement shall be taken from the top of an ore pass to the top of the solid material and a measurement shall be taken from the top of an ore pass to the top of the wet material to determine both the volume of material and the volume of wet material, if any.

16.) It is recommended that the Ministry of Labour implement a policy where all double barricades and hazardous accumulations of water shall be discussed with workers prior to the beginning of a shift and that the workers be made aware of steps being taken to mitigate the safety concern.

17.) It is recommended that Vale implement a policy where all equipment used to transport material be regularly inspected to ensure that all safety features are functioning. For example, to ensure that drainage holes on scoop tams are free of debris.

18.) It is recommended that Vale Implement a policy where all ore passes be fitted with an appropriately sized mantle or grizzly.

19.) It is recommended that the Ministry of Labour include a regulation for Mines to inspect all active ore passes twice a year. Should any changes or abnormalities appear in the structure of the ore pass, the schematic shall be updated and stamped by an engineer.

20.) It is recommended to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities that Common Core training be reviewed and updated to include more advanced training with respect to water management, if deemed necessary. For example, wet material, drainage of wet mines, clearing of drain holes, safe removal of hangups and use of control gates.

21.) It is recommended that Vale review incentive programs to ensure a common goal of production and safety, where the safety conditions are given equal weight to production in order to foster an environment based on collaboration.

22.) It is recommended that Vale implement a policy where the Joint Health and Safety Committee is notified when a double barricade is erected or where significant accumulations of water are occurring.

23.) It is recommended that the Ministry of Labour conduct more announced and unannounced inspections of mines. This is to enforce regulations as outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act and to promote safe working conditions in all Ontario mines.

24.) We endorse the 42 recommendations identified by the Vale and USW mining review as outline in the Stobie Fatality Recommendations and encourage the development of policy affecting all mine operations in Ontario, where applicable.