Ontario’s mining industry undertaking health and safety review

Grassroots oversight, public consultation could shape H&S capacity, legislation
By Megan Waqué
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 04/20/2014

Many people don’t realize the role the mining industry has played in influencing health and safety legislation. Much of the language in Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) regarding worker, supervisor and employer duties was largely shaped by the recommendations of the Ham Commission Report of 1976.

The reason for the Ham Commission? Uranium miners in Elliot Lake, Ont., had gone on strike after becoming alarmed about the high frequency of lung cancer and silicosis amongst co-workers.

In 2003, Bill C-45 was passed — also known as the “Westray Bill.” The federal bill made it possible to charge corporations, directors and executives under the Criminal Code of Canada if employees are injured or fatally injured while at work. This legislation rose from the ashes of Nova Scotia’s 1992 mine disaster in which 26 miners were killed in an underground explosion. Union representatives and families of the deceased miners persistently advocated for this bill for more than a decade.