Vale ordered to pay $124K after worker sprayed in eye with liquid grout in 2016

By | February 12, 2019

Mining giant Vale has been ordered to pay $124,000 for breaching Manitoba workplace safety laws, after a worker in the company’s Thompson mine suffered a permanent eye injury.

Vale Canada Limited pleaded guilty in December to violating the province’s Workplace Safety and Health Act and Regulations following an incident in 2016.

Workers in the company’s T3 Mine in Thompson, Man., were using pressurized equipment to fill holes in the rockface on April 30, 2016 when a pressurized hose ruptured, spraying two workers in the face with liquid grout, according to Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health’s website.

The grout got into one worker’s left eye, the document says, but there was no eyewash station available on the elevated scissor deck he and others had been using.

Workers used a water bottle in an attempt to flush the eye before the injured employee was brought down from the deck only to find there was no eyewash station available at that level’s retreat station, either.

The worker had to be driven roughly five minutes to get to another level of the mine before being able to flush his eye using an eyewash station, the provincial document says.

Permanent eye injury: province

The worker got another eye flush from the mine’s first aid attendant at the surface before being sent to Thompson’s General Hospital and then transferred to Winnipeg for further treatment.

The worker was left with a permanent eye injury as a result of the incident, the province says.

After the incident, Vale was prosecuted for violations under Manitoba’s workplace safety laws. On Dec. 17, 2018, it pleaded guilty to failing to ensure emergency eyewash equipment was readily available to a worker operating and working in close proximity to the CG-542 rock bolt and cable grouter.

In an emailed statement Vale spokesperson Ryan Land says the company conducted a joint investigation following the incident. It has implemented all recommendations that came out as a result, he says, as well as recommendations from Workplace Safety and Health.

“We cannot take back what happened, but as a company we accept responsibility,” Land wrote.

“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.”

As a result of the incident, the company was ordered to pay $124,000 in fines and penalties.

The province is reminding employers to make sure emergency washing facilities are available in the workplace.