Vale fined $124,000 for not having emergency eyewash equipment nearby during 2016 incident

Worker had grout in eye for extended period and ended up with permanent eye injury

Vale was fined $124,000 after pleading guilty in December to failing to ensure emergency eyewash equipment was available nearby while workers were pumping liquid grout in the T3 mine in Thompson in April 2016.

The workers were on an elevated scissor deck grouting cables on the 4070 level of T3 by pumping liquid grout into holes through a polyethylene hose. The hose ruptured, spraying liquid grout into the faces of two workers and into one of the worker’s eyes. The lack of emergency washing facilities nearby led to the grout remaining in his eye for an extended period, which resulted in a permanent eye injury.

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Workers tried to flush the man’s eye using a water bottle and brought him down from the scissor deck and to the level 4070 retreat station but there was no eyewash station there. He was driven to level 4250, about five minutes away, where his eye was flushed using an eyewash station. He was then taken to the surface, where his eye was flushed again by the T3 mine first aid attendant, before being taken to Thompson General Hospital for treatment and then transferred to Winnipeg for further treatment.

Vale Canada Limited pleaded guilty to not having the emergency eyewash equipment nearby while the workers were operating and in proximity to the CG-542 Rock Bolt and Cable Grouter, in violation of the Workplace Health and Safety Act. Penalties and fines totalling $124,000 were handed down by the Workplace Health and Safety Branch of Manitoba Growth, Enterprise and Trade.

“We cannot take back what happened, but as a company we accept responsibility,” said a statement from Ryan Land, Vale’s manager of Indigenous and corporate affairs for Ontario and Manitoba. “Our most important goal in our pursuit of zero harm is to see zero lives lost or changed, and this unfortunate incident is a stern reminder that we are not yet there. We conducted a joint investigation immediately following the incident and have since implemented the recommendations from that confidential report, as well as those from Workplace Health and Safety, in order to ensure that this never happens again.”

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