Mining the Past to Build a Better Future in Occupational Health and Safety
Vic Pakalnis, P. Eng., MBA. M. Eng., President and Chief Executive Officer, MIRARCO Mining Innovation
The Ontario mining industry in the mid-70's faced accident rates higher than any other industrial sector. In 1976, there were 19 fatalities, 12.5 lost time injuries (LTI's) per 100 workers. Wildcat strikes by miners in Elliot Lake and considerable political pressure on a minority government, led to the creation of the Royal Commission on Health and Safety of Workers in Mines. It was headed up by Dr. James Ham, an engineering professor from the University of Toronto. The report, known as The Ham Report, was tabled on June 30, 1976 and it changed the occupational health and safety system in the province of Ontario – and not just for the mining sector.
On October 1, 1979, the Occupational Health and Safety Act came into force. It applies to all workers in Ontario with the exception of workers under federal jurisdiction. By looking at the evolution of the mining industry, in terms of health and safety, we can see that this old and yet still strategically important industry, can teach us how to build a better future for occupational health and safety in Canada's workplaces.
The Internal Responsibility System
Dr. James Ham is arguably the father of occupational health and safety in Canada. He coined the concept of "Internal Responsibility System" (IRS). Although it is a term that was defined in the Ham Report, and it has been honed over time in practice. It can be defined as follows: The internal responsibility system is a safety management system that outlines clear roles and accountabilities for workplace parties with direct and contributory responsibility for health and safety. The following diagram shows the various workplace players and illustrates the concept.
Looking Back on 2013…
Stephanie Noel, Business Development Manager, Queen's IRC
As the year draws to a close, I would like to reflect on some of the highlights for Queen's IRC. This year we launched a new easier-to-navigate website and began using social media. We have produced a number of short videos about our programs, along with a Tip of the Week series and Q&A clips from our interviews with facilitators and experts. Our Archive Revitalization Project was launched, and has added many terrific resources to the Research and Resources section of our website.
Queen's IRC has continued to meet the professional development needs of our human resources, organizational development, and labour relations practitioners by offering programs from coast to coast. We also continued to extend our international presence with a new Partnership with the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business in Trinidad.
This summer, we completed a Marketing Survey to better understand the needs of our customers in this ever-changing world. We are currently offering a promotion if you register for a program before Dec. 31, 2014.
On behalf of the IRC, I would like to thank our client community for its continued support of our programs and practitioner-focused research. We value our relationships with our participants and their sponsor organizations, and I am looking forward to continuing to build these relationships in 2014.
As I look over the list of papers and articles we have released this year, I am proud of the work we are doing to help LR, HR, and OD practitioners identify and address key issues and challenges in their organizations. I encourage you to take a few minutes and review these excellent resources.
Throughout the program season, Queen's IRC releases a video "Tip of the Week" from our expert facilitators and speakers each week via our social media sites. We have paused for the month of December, but we will begin releasing new tips again in January.