Injury Lawyers Since 1984
Family of Raymond Campeau’s Counsel: Russell J. Howe
FNX Mining Counsel: Goldie Bassi
United Steel Workers of America’s Counsel: Shane Guscott
Ontario Ministry of Labour’s Counsel: Jerry Wedzicha
Raymond Campeau was killed in a mining accident on March 25, 2006. Mr. Campeau was an experienced and well-respected miner who left behind a wife and two children. Mr. Campeau was replacing the motor on a jumbo winch, a device that weighed over 2000 pounds. The braking system holding up the device failed, the device crashed to the floor of the platform spraying the compartment with metal shrapnel and injuring him fatally. There was no first aid equipment available to assist Mr. Campeau who was several hundred feet underground. By the time he reached a distant hospital, he was pronounced dead.
Pursuant to the Coroner’s Act, an inquest was called and the family of the late Mr. Campeau retained our firm to represent them at the inquest and to pursue civil litigation against the manufacturer of the failed which who would not be protected by the WSIB legislation.
Our office conducted an extensive investigation of the matter before the inquest was set to begin. We conducted lengthy interviews with many miners who were both present for the fatal accident and who had worked at that site and with Mr. Campeau. We created engineering drawings and a series of diagrams to visually represent what had occurred and did extensive research into the equipment and mining techniques involved.
The issues at play in the inquest were the relevant regulations relating to lifting devices, the shaft sinking process, the inherent dangers and environment of underground mining and the need for safety equipment to be made available for the miners working in this dangerous environment.
The inquest ran for five days from April 21 to 25, 2008. Testimony was taken from 13 witnesses and 49 documents were entered as exhibits.
The counsel for the mining company throughout their questioning and submissions tried to place the blame for the accident on Mr. Campeau, convince the jury that the system was effectively fine, that the only problem was the miners who refused or neglected to follow protocol, and that virtually no recommendations were needed.
As representatives of the family, we pointed out a number of risks and dangers that could be corrected through proper regulation. The winch motors were moved from project to project and reinstalled without recertification. Manuals and operating information for various pieces of equipment were not kept on site or were not accessible. Lifting and safety devices were contaminated and deteriorated when exposed to the wet mining environment and many pieces of equipment were not designed to operate in a wet environment. There was no immediate access to first aid supplies in the mine and the air ambulance had some difficulty locating the mine and thus time was lost in getting emergency care to Mr. Campeau.
The jury returned 16 recommendations almost all of which were based on our submissions. Some of these recommendations have indeed been implemented and thus our work at this inquest has made mining safer in Ontario.
The jury recommendations were as follows:
1. The Ministry of Labour shall review the mining regulations (854) to ensure they adequately address the specific needs of shaft sinking.
2. The Ministry of Labour shall review the existing mining regulations (854) with respect to lifting devices to further specify safety testing and maintenance requirements for these devices, including, but not limited to brake testing.
3. The following requirements should be added to current legislation on lifting devices. “No lifting devices shall be operated in a shaft without a professional engineer giving a written statement to the owner setting out that the lifting device is designed and manufactured in accordance with appropriate engineering standards and installed where it is being operated in compliance with good engineering practice.”
4. The Ministry of Labour shall review its practices and rationale concerning the inspector’s role in communicating with family members when investigating fatalities and critical injuries.
5. The Ministry of Labour shall undergo a review of its inspection and investigative roles with a focus on frontline resources within the mining sector and provide recommendations.
6. Based on the Ministry of Labour program review, adequate resources shall be provided to address the recommendations.
7. A third party professional engineer and/or Ministry of Labour shall review drawings, plans and specifications of shaft sinking work platforms and permanently install components before they are put into use.
8. Lifting devices and braking components that may be subjected to contamination as a result of the working environment should be protected from same by way of protective cover or other suitable means.
9. Operating manuals, guidelines and drawings for each piece of equipment should be maintained at the mine site and be readily accessible to the appropriate personnel.
10. When a lifting device containing a braking system(s) is modified or relocated from its original operating configuration, it shall be certified prior to use.
11. The employer shall maintain first aid equipment on each working level of the Galloway.
12. The employer shall provide clear written procedures for replacing and maintaining load-bearing winch motors and that they be made available to all workers.
13. It should be the employer’s responsibility to ensure that proper brake checks and safety systems are carried out and duly logged.
14. The owner/operator of any mining property in advanced exploration or later stages shall provide accurate Global Positioning Systems Coordinates and road directions/access to the site to the local 911 system.
15. All underground employees shall have a minimum of CPR and basic first aid and maintain certification.
16. Lockout and tag-out procedures must be adhered to by all employees. Properly engineered tie-offs for the Jumbo Drill and Cryderman must be installed, identified and utilized by employees to ensure safety.