Sudbury

Experts call for more information sharing at Sudbury mine safety conference

A mine manager at Vale in Sudbury says mines don't compare notes on proven safety practices because competition between companies gets in the way.
Competition among companies sometimes can get in the way of sharing good safety information between mines, according to a mine manager at Vale in Sudbury. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

A mine manager at Vale in Sudbury says mines don't compare notes on proven safety practices because competition between companies gets in the way.

On the heels of the province's new mine safety review released in Sudbury this week, there are calls for better information sharing in the industry.

Frank Demers, the manager for Vale's Creighton mine, sat on a committee that looked at hazards in mines. It was part of the year-long mining review commissioned by the provincial government following a number of mining deaths.

At a mining safety conference in Sudbury on Thursday, Demers described a mining industry where procedures are different in the various mines and where safety standards are not consistent.

Competition among companies sometimes gets in the way of sharing good safety information, Demers said.

"Am I surprised that it hasn't happened? I guess I'm not too surprised because I've worked for Vale now for 15 years and I know that my neighbours across the street do things differently at Glencore," Demers said.

"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."

Tammy Eger is the director of the Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health at Laurentian University in Sudbury. (Centre for Research and Occupational Safety and Health)

A potential solution to the problem was presented by Tammy Eger, the director of the Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health.

Eger suggested the centre, which is located at Laurentian University, could become a repository of safety information for companies to consult. 

The centre could make sure academic studies are translated into practical language that is useful for the industry, Eger added.

"There's this gap that still exists in translating safety research from the academics into the industry in a practical way," Eger said.

The centre could also partner with other workplace safety organizations to develop and communicate safety standards and best practices, she added.

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