In the world of environmental, health and safety, sharing information can have an amazing ripple effect across an industry. It gives companies the ability to learn from the experiences of other companies. In some cases, this can be the difference between life and death for workers, or it can prevent devastating environmental incidents. Overall, we are stronger when we work together towards EHS excellence.
More Collaboration Desired in Ontario Mining Sector
The mining sector is an example of an industry that stands to realize significant benefits if further information-sharing initiatives are implemented. However, sharing information can appear counter-intuitive for companies struggling to do business in a competitive market.
“Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.” – Douglas Adams
Earlier this month, the results of a provincial mining safety review were released in Ontario, Canada.The final report seems to touch briefly on some information-sharing initiatives, such as the maintenance of a mining exposure database to track and monitor potential cancer causing toxins. But it appears that several in the industry think that there’s much more that can – and should – be done in this area.
Frank Demers, a mine manager employed by Vale, took part in the mine safety review process. In speaking with CBC News he described safety standards and procedures as inconsistent across companies. “We’ve gotten much better at sharing over the past three or four years, but prior to that we liked to hold our cards close to our chests,” said Demers.
Also weighing in on the issue of industry collaboration was George Gritziotis, Chief Prevention Officer at the Ontario Ministry of Labour: “Health and safety is a continuous journey of improvement, and we must always monitor emerging health and safety issues and continue to move towards a culture of all parties working together to find sustainable solutions.”
As the top location for mining investment and production in Canada,Ontario’s mining industry employs approximately 27,000 people, with another 50,000 jobs in supply chains and support activities. That’s a lot of people who could be learning from each other’s experiences!
Tammy Eger, Director of the Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health at Laurentian University, has suggested a next step for information-sharing in the Ontario mine industry. She’d like to see the Centre become a repository of safety information for mining companies to consult, and to ensure that any academic studies are translated into the kind of practical language that could be made useful within the industry.
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