Sudbury

Workplace Safety North hosts annual mining health and safety conference

A conference focusing on mining health and safety starts Tuesday in Sudbury.

Main talks at event to be streamed online

The health and safety of those working in mining is being discussed this week in Sudbury. (AP file photo)

A conference focusing on mining health and safety starts Tuesday in Sudbury.

The annual event, organized by Workplace Safety North, is sold out again this year.

Mike Parent, the vice-president of prevention services at Workplace Safety North, says there isn't a larger venue in Sudbury to host a bigger conference. As a result, he says they will livestream the main speakers.

"I believe we've done a great job at working with the industry to stay relevant," he said. "We stay close to the industry. They have a lot of input into the event."

Parent says the goal is to turn the event into a national conference once a big enough space is available. He says safety in mining is a topic that's important to discuss. 

"Mining does have a bit of a bad rap. When something really bad happens it seems to catch a lot of attention. But realistically, we've come a long way," he said.

"We are now nowhere near the top as far as other sectors in Ontario as being an industry that harms a lot of people."

Despite the improvements in safety, Parent says mining does pose an element of risk.

Mike Parent is the vice-president of prevention services at Workplace Safety North. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

"Our job is to work at managing that risk to a level that doesn't bring harm to people," he said.

Parent says the conference also allows the sharing of new ideas and networking opportunities.

The following speakers will talk at the conference:

  • Darby Allen, former fire chief of Fort McMurray. Allen will talk about leading the evacuation of the community during the 2016 Alberta wildfires.
  • Diamonds in the Rough. The group is the first-ever all-women mine rescue team. They competed at the International Mines Rescue Competition in Russia last year.
  • Ted Hanley and Shawn Rideout. Hanley and Rideout will talk about the founding of the Ontario Mine Rescue after the Hollinger fire in Timmins as well as a look at current day rescue operations.
  • Manna Fourie. Fourie is the CEO of Mines Rescue Services in South Africa.
  • Keith Hansen and Dr. Michel Larivière. They will present the results of the Vale Canada Mining Mental Health Study.
  • Ron DiFrancesco. DiFranceso will share his story of surviving the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack in New York City.
The 21st annual Mining Health and Safety Conference is now on in Sudbury. This year the focus is on preparing for emergencies in mines. We heard more about the conference from Mike Parent, the vice-president of prevention services at Workplace Safety North, the group organizing the event. 6:06

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