Over the past 50 years the Manitoba mining industry has achieved excellence in safety performance because of the dedication of its workforce. Mining is now one of the safest industries in our province.
The Mines Accident Prevention Association of Manitoba (MAPAM) was founded in 1962 to meet the increasing need for safety and consulting services to the rapidly expanding mining industry. The association promotes and implements leading-edge accident prevention actions and programs, and assist in workers compensation management and statutory reviews for its members. For the past 52 years, MAPAM has been representing the interests of the mining industry and continues to provide value added services for its membership.
Our industry has changed the way it views accident prevention, no longer relying on trends to predict future accidents. More emphasis is placed on hazard identification and risk mitigation. As such, Lost Time Accidents (LTAs) are the lowest they have been since we began recording statistics five decades ago. The true champions of this accomplishment are those men and women that work safely every shift, with the spirit of continuous improvement as their primary driver. Although we are encouraged by this record, and have worked tirelessly to get to where we are, we always remember those workers and family members who have suffered loss.
We continue to demonstrate our commitment to health and safety. We do so by providing compliance and risk management training, timely advice on health and safety and hosting conferences to discuss issues related to mine emergency management. We have also developed reasonable and practical laws to provide sound guidelines for the workplace; performed research and development work (an important factor necessary to optimize emergency preparedness, planning and response) and have worked to visualize future hazards and reduce their risk factors. Manitoba’s mining industry is the only industry to have its own regulation where employers, workers, and the government representatives cooperate to ensure that legislation is current and that our regulation meets the intent of being reasonable and responsible.
In addition, Manitoba’s mining industry holds the Manitoba Provincial Mine Rescue Competition each year. These competitions, which have been held for over 50 years, test the completeness of our emergency response plans and competencies of our response personnel; essential in continuing to provide the same high level of rescue services across the province. Many volunteers and family members are dedicated to mine rescue and help make this test of our emergency response capability a success year after year.
The importance of mine rescue competitions was further enhanced by Justice Richards, the commissioner in charge of the Westray mine public inquiry.
In 1992, the Westray mine exploded taking the lives of 26 miners. Justice Richards made 74 recommendations, four of which included:
· Every mine operator should have a well-defined emergency response plan complete with a comprehensive procedures manual
· Rescue and emergency response and test equipment should be standardized
· Mutual assistance protocols should be established within the community and nearby
· Mine rescue competitions which provide a valuable training incentive for miners should be continued
We continue to act on these recommendations. As of today, Manitoba has 176 trained mine rescue heroes. Each year, these heroes, part of the participating mine rescue teams, compete against each other and are judged on first aid, fire fighting, obstacle and recovery and practical skills. Technicians also compete for the Technician Award, an award given to the individual who demonstrates the highest level of proficiency in preparing the breathing apparatus rescue personnel use in emergency situations.
As leaders in the field of mining health and safety, we work to continuously improve and implement leading edge accident prevention actions and programs while interfacing to positively impact legislation and regulations.
We will not be satisfied until every mine worker who leaves work each day, arrives home safely to their family, and is only affected by the natural passage of time.