Newfoundland & Labrador OHS Regulations Now Cover All Sectors In NL
May 31, 2012
By Denis Mahoney, at McInnes Cooper
As of March 20, 2012 Newfoundland & Labrador’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulations now cover the safety of workers in the mining industry. This results in one set of occupational health and safety regulations covering all sectors, including mining, in the Province of Newfoundland & Labrador.
Newfoundland & Labrador joins Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon in enacting Occupational Health and Safety Regulations that include the mining industry, and create a single set of OHS Regulations for the entire Province.
Click here to read McInnes Cooper’s March 14, 2012 Legal Alert “Newfoundland & Labrador OHS Regulations Incorporates Mining Industry Workers Effective March 20, 2012”.
The 2012 Occupational Health and Safety Regulations replace both the 2009 Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and the former Mines Safety of Workers Regulations. The modernization of the former Mines Safety of Workers Regulations, in effect since the 1950’s with little change, was a significant factor driving the 2012 Regulations.
The incorporation of the mining sector into the general OHS regime is intended to achieve several objectives, including:
- Enhancing and clarifying technical mining requirements;
- Updating references to relevant legislative provisions;
- Simplifying the process for employers, as they now only need to consult one set of regulations; and
- Making the Province’s OHS regulations more easily understood and user-friendly.
Although the 2012 Regulations in part consolidate previously existing regulations, they also include important changes employers in the mining sector must know and incorporate into their safety management systems. Some key changes include:
- Updated requirements on the operation of mine hoists and reference to a new safety standard for mine hoist operations: The standard outlines qualifications for hoist operators, and the requirements for proper maintenance, documentation and communication related to mine hoisting equipment.
- New requirements for mine design of an underground or open pit mine: The 2012 Regulations add substantial requirements for mine design not present in the former Mining Regulations, such as requiring an employer to develop and maintain a mine design certificate by a professional engineer.
- Updates and changes to shafts and conveyance requirements: This includes specifying requirements for conveyor belts; for example, conveyor belts must be made of flame retardant material or provided with an automatic fire extinguishing system and must meet the requirements of CSA Standard CSA M422 “Fire Performance and Antistatic Requirements for Conveyor Belting”.
- Changed requirements for geological characterization and composition analysis of the rock being mined: Underground mine design must now include a description of the mine’s geology and the geological characterization and composition analysis of the rock to be mined or quarried.
- Changed regulation of the use of explosives: In addition to the section on general blasting, the 2012 Regulations include a separate section for explosives in mines that includes much more specific requirements for the storage and use of explosives. For example, the 2012 Regulations specify that explosives cannot be stored within 60 meters of a hoist room, shaft station, refuge station, transformer station, fuel storage area, garage or shop, access ramp or anywhere a vehicle may collide with stored explosives.
- More detailed regulations surrounding ventilation: The 2012 Regulations include far more detailed and substantial rules regarding ventilation. Employers must have a ventilation plan implemented, maintained and periodically reviewed, and the mines operating procedures for the ventilation system must now be certified by a professional engineer. The 2012 Regulations also contain more detailed rules around monitoring and maintenance of ventilation; for example an employer must ensure vent tubes used in a mine are constructed of materials that meet specific CSA standards.
- Changed requirements for mine rescue: Employers must now have an established emergency procedure in writing, and must post it both on the surface and underground. There are also new requirements regarding emergency warning systems, mine rescue stations, and rescue equipment, and all workers are now required to attend courses in mine rescue.
The changes incorporated into the 2012 Regulations are substantial but, practically speaking, they have largely brought the Province’s regulations into line with modern safe mining practices. Thus, many of the changes to the general requirements for mining, such as cap lights and illumination, will not have a significant impact on most mining operations. However, the 2012 Regulations could result in increased costs to mine operators/employers as they bring all aspects of their mining operations into compliance and instruct all workers and supervisors of these revisions.
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