Occupational hygiene, also called industrial hygiene, is the practice of preventing adverse health consequences due to exposures in the workplace. Occupational/industrial hygiene can be defined as the anticipation, recognition, evaluation and control of environmental stressors in or arising from the workplace that may result in injury, illness, impairment, or affect the well-being of workers.
Part 2 of the Health, Safety and Reclamation Code for Mines in British Columbia (Code) outlines the occupational health requirements for B.C. mining operations. The Code describes the responsibility of mine managers to develop and implement occupational health programs. Implemented programs serve to determine the health hazards which may arise from mining activity, evaluate those hazards and employ appropriate control measures. Required occupational health programs cover topics such as workplace exposure monitoring, medical surveillance and ergonomics.
The information and links below include guidelines and standards for best work practices related to the prevention of adverse health consequences in the workplace.
Ergonomics encompasses the practice of the effective design of work environments and how various factors in the workplace affect people’s health and safety, productivity and quality of work. Ergonomics is often defined as “fitting the job to the person” and involves identifying the physical and mental demands required to design a job safely.
Mining operations can meet these design demands by successfully recognizing, evaluating and controlling associated risk factors, thereby reducing the risk of injury to workers.
Fatigue management is an emerging issue in worker safety, and research is being done by a variety of industries to better understand and mitigate this potential hazard. To better assist, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources (EMPR) has developed a short infographic with some information about fatigue and how to identify it. This one page document may be used on mine bulletin boards and as a discussion item for toolbox talks.
Chemical Handling, Use and Storage
Chemicals are used on mine sites for a variety of purposes such as metal extraction, lab analyses and cleaning equipment. The following document provides guidance on the use of perchloric acid and perchloric acid fume hoods.
Other guidelines to better clarify requirements set out in the Code are currently under development.
Lead exposure at mines is a concern if ore is lead containing (such as galena) and/or when lead is added during extraction or in another mining process. Lead is often used in fire assay, a laboratory method commonly used to extract gold. The following document provides guidance on reducing lead exposure in fire assay laboratories.
Lead exposure on mine sites can also occur from concentrate dust, welding or grinding materials containing lead, battery disposal and demolition activities.