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Inquiry, stronger safety measures needed to protect miners: Steelworkers

A Ministry of Labour report on the death of Sudbury miner Stephen Perry reinforces the need for increased safety measures to better protect workers, the United Steelworkers union says. Following a yearlong investigation into the Jan.
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A Ministry of Labour report on the death of Sudbury miner Stephen Perry reinforces the need for increased safety measures to better protect workers, the United Steelworkers union says.

Following a yearlong investigation into the Jan. 29, 2012, fatality at Vale’s Coleman Mine, Ontario’s labour ministry announced Jan. 25 no charges will be laid under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

“The labour ministry confirmed a key finding of our union’s investigation of this tragedy, which is that Stephen Perry was killed even though he did everything right at work that day,” said Steelworkers Local 6500 President Rick Bertrand.

“This tragedy reconfirms that there is more that we can, and must do to prevent workplace deaths,” Bertrand said.

Perry, 47, was operating heavy machinery 4,215 feet underground at the Coleman Mine when he was struck by a massive piece of rock that dislodged from the face, or wall, of an ore body.

USW Local 6500 and Vale conducted a joint investigation into the fatality that produced 15 recommendations, Bertrand noted.

“We have identified several measures that can be taken to try to prevent such a tragedy in the future,” he said. “We have made progress in implementing these measures and we are committed to ensuring that all of the recommendations are implemented.”

Key recommendations include bolting the face of an ore body in preparation for performing work at the face and introducing new equipment and technology to better protect miners working in such situations.

Bertrand said he hopes a coroner’s inquest into Perry’s death, which is mandatory in Ontario, also will produce findings and recommendations to prevent mining deaths and injuries and improve workplace health and safety.

There is an increasingly urgent need for the Ontario government to hold a mine safety inquiry, Bertrand added, noting there have been more than 180 mining deaths since the last provincial inquiry was held in 1981.

“With so many deaths and so many changes in the mining industry over the last 32 years, the Liberal government must finally recognize that a mine safety inquiry is long overdue in this province.”



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