An accident at 6:30 pm on April 6 at Vale's Copper Cliff smelter has killed one man and severely injured another while they were working in the casting/crushing plant.
Early indications were that a 36-year-old mechanic died when a pin from a crusher broke off and was released under high pressure. He was pronounced dead at the scene. A 28-year-old industrial mechanic was injured at the same time and taken to hospital. The names of the men were not released.
This is the fourth death of a mine worker in the Sudbury area in less than three years. In 2011 Jordan Fram (26) and Jason Chenier (35) died in an unscheduled run of muck at Vale's Stobie mine. An unnamed 47-year-old employee at Vale's Coleman mine died in 2012 in what was described as a "displacement of material" in a development heading.
Ironically, the Ontario Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review held three meetings in Sudbury last week. The review was initiated following the outcry after the deaths of Fram and Chenier. Both the Steelworkers and Mine Mill locals are pressing for a formal inquiry into mine safety, not merely a review.
Something is out of whack with this situation. No Sudburian was unaware that the health and safety review panel was in town. Why was not safety uppermost in everyone's mind?
Who put the hex on Vale operations? I don't really believe in hexes, but it seems peculiar that these four fatalities occurred on that company's property.
The interesting questions are: What are the other mining companies in Sudbury doing to successfully avoid fatalities? What is the common thread that allowed their employees to go home safely at the end of Sunday's shifts?
Now is the time for every employer – in the mining industry or not – and every employee to redouble their efforts to ensure safe workplaces for all.