Mine Inspection Force to Increase by 25 Percent

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Mike Rich
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The B.C. government plans to increase the number of mine inspectors on its force by more than 25 percent during 2012 to keep pace with increased mining activity and help ensure work-site safety.

Al Hoffman, the province’s chief inspector of mines, said in an interview to the Vancouver Sun that four new inspectors were hired in the past six months and the goal is to hire another 6 in the coming months.

“The challenge we have is that the mining industry is, in general, booming,” Hoffman said. “We’re competing with industry to get the same skill sets.”

Once the six positions are filled the total complement of B.C. mine inspectors would stand at 46.

Inspectors are involved in a range of duties, from permitting of mining exploration to conducting health and safety inspections of operating mines.

WorkSafeBC reports that the province wide injury accident rate was 2.27 per 100 workers in 2010, the last year for which such statistics are available.

The mining sector averages two injuries per 100, much better than the average of four in forestry and general construction, five in heavy construction, and eight in warehousing.

“We’re very proud of that record,” Hoffman said. “We like to think it’s a collaborative effort of the mining industry, workers, unions, and us. High injury rates and fatalities are morally unacceptable. There’s also a realization that safe mines are efficient mines.”

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