Updates to mining code increase safety for workers
Changes to the Health, Safety and Reclamation Code for Mines in British Columbia come into force on April 1, 2021, to strengthen worker protection and all aspects of mining oversight.
“Our government is committed to the health and safety of workers,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “Through the Standing Code Review Committee, we are updating the code to ensure high safety and environmental standards, which contribute to safe, stable work for British Columbians. The updated code strengthens our ability to attract environmental, social and governance-focused investment. This is another example of what we can accomplish when we work together.”
Following a recommendation by the Mining Jobs Task Force, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation established a Standing Code Review Committee in 2019 with representation from Indigenous communities, labour and industry. The Standing Code Review Committee is responsible for reviewing B.C.’s mining regulations in light of evolving trends and ensuring that the health, safety and environment at mine sites are at the forefront of operations.
The committee unanimously recommended eight revisions to the code to improve safety at B.C. mines to clarify and modernize existing provisions and to ensure the code remains current in relation to changing standards and federal regulations.
The revisions include:
- adding cannabis in the impairment clause to align with federal legalization
- adding avalanche safety requirements
- adding gas detection and blowout prevention for exploration sites
- updating Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
- updating requirements to ensure safety mechanisms are in place for under-truck repairs on haul trucks
- updating clauses related to pressure vessels to ensure they meet current Canadian Standards Association standards
- updating legislation references in the Code for the Public Health Act
- modernizing the requirements for atmospheric detection in underground mines
“Mining can be a tough job and we need to work together to improve workplace safety,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “Worker health and safety is incredibly important, and these new changes improve mining environments for workers so that they can return home safe at the end of their shift.”
Additionally, the chief permitting officer now oversees the provisions of the code related to the permitting process, demonstrating the separation of accountabilities established under the Mines Act, which was amended in August 2020. The chief inspector of mines remains accountable for health and safety, as well as compliance and enforcement functions.
The Government of British Columbia is committed to ongoing efforts to improve mining oversight and to support a responsible and sustainable industry that plays a critical role in the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Nalaine Morin, ArrowBlade Consulting, Standing Code Review Committee –
“As one of the Indigenous representatives on the code committee, I am pleased with the collaboration and support given by the committee members and the secretariat. There is a commitment by all members to work towards an innovative and forward-thinking code that supports a responsible and sustainable mining sector in the Province of B.C.”
Michael Goehring, president and CEO, Mining Association of British Columbia –
“B.C.’s mining sector remains committed to build on the world-leading health, safety and environmental practices we are known for. Working collaboratively, the Standing Code Review Committee advanced meaningful recommendations to ensure the Health, Safety and Reclamation Code is forward looking and continues to support a responsible, innovative and sustainable mining sector that British Columbians can be proud of.”
Stephen Hunt, United Steelworkers director for Western Canada –
“We welcome the overdue changes to the Mines Code that will protect the health and safety of workers by clarifying and modernizing language that makes violations enforceable and mines safer. By working collaboratively with the province and Indigenous representatives, we engage in respectful dialogue to make recommendations that will protect people, the environment and traditional lands.”
For more information on the Standing Code Review Committee, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019EMPR0026-001309
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