A little risk management could have saved one mining operation from a regulatory headache.
Although the Donkin underground coal mine has yet to experience any accidents that could put its workers’ lives at risk, Nova Scotia’s Department of Labour and Advanced Education has issued the mining operation 10 safety orders and 29 warnings.
The orders and warnings followed a series of six inspections by the Department between February 27 and June 15.
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Scott Nauss, department senior director of inspection and compliance, explained that the violations were “no surprise,” as the mine is relatively new and safety regulations have considerably changed since 1992 following the Westray Mine disaster that saw 26 miners perish in a methane explosion.
“This is the first mine in Nova Scotia under our new underground coal-mining regulations,” Nauss told Canada's Occupational Health & Safety Magazine
. “Coal mining is a high-risk industry, and the province of Nova Scotia takes coal-mining safety very seriously, and it’s probably the most regulated work environment in the province.”
Nauss also revealed that several of the mine’s infractions were related to training and documentation, accessibility to emergency equipment, lack of approval for a piece of electrical equipment and the presence of water in emergency-exit routes.
“I wouldn’t call these issues minor, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that employees’ lives are at risk either,” he added.
Kameron Collieries, a mining subsidiary of The Cline Group that runs the mine, could not be reached for a statement regarding the safety orders and warnings.
“Coal mining is a high-risk work environment, maybe one of the highest-risk in the province,” Nauss stated. “So this mine is being inspected more frequently than any workplace in Nova Scotia, and we, the government, are taking the safety very seriously, as is the company, as are the employees.”
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