Canadian Mining Journal

Feature

Mine safety is for “sissies”

Mine safety is a topic I could talk about in almost every issue of the magazine. It's something that I'm familiar with because unlike most people, I've actually been in mines and know first hand how potentially dangerous they can be.



Mine safety is a topic I could talk about in almost every issue of the magazine. It’s something that I’m familiar with because unlike most people, I’ve actually been in mines and know first hand how potentially dangerous they can be.

Note that I said “can be” instead of saying “are” because any place that involves machines and massive amounts of rock and dirt can be dangerous but quite honestly, I’d rather be a thousand feet down a shaft or hundreds of feet into an open pit than on most of today’s highways.

But regardless of the potentials for danger in mines, the truth of the matter is that they are still some of the safer work environments on or more precisely, under, earth.

I know there have been recent headlines talking about mishaps where lives have been lost or equipment failures have resulted in shut downs but again, by comparison to the number of injuries that occur daily in more conventional walks-of-life, mining is still safer.

And the reason is clear. The majority of mining companies (here in Canada at least) simply don’t fool around when it comes to safety. Admittedly every once in a while something goes wrong but there again, something occasionally goes wrong with almost everything.

Certain groups and individuals, however, would have the public think that things go wrong with mining all the time and they seem bent on convincing almost anyone who will listen that mining is just plain wrong. They believe it’s a threat to the future of mankind, but as the logical rest of us know, that’s ludicrous and almost as crazy as the headline at the top of this column.

As I just mentioned, there are a number of groups or individuals out there devoted to slamming anything associated with mining and one of those I came across recently is a ‘consultant’ from Australia who says that mines would be safer places if men weren’t being pressured to show their masculinity and become “macho risk takers.”

“Peer pressure (on men at mines sites) ensures safety is only for sissies,” says the consultant. “For most of them, it’s vital to portray themselves as being strong, tough guys. This is a safety issue since they can never show any vulnerability or weakness.”

I don’t know where the consultant did his research but every miner I’ve ever met takes safety as seriously as they do the numbers on their paycheques and the men and women I know who work in mines are not stupid enough to risk the latter just to be “macho.”

In fact, many of the miners I’ve met are slight in stature but tough as nails and so are many of the men.

In any event, the ‘teams’ that work in our mines are truly self-governing, especially when it comes to safety, because one ‘jerk-move’ by anyone can spell disaster for everyone.

That’s the reason “sissies” don’t work in mines.


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