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Union and company support recommendations of Labrador West Medical Audit report

Ron Thomas, president of steelworkers local 5795, at Press conference releasing details of Labrador west medical audit report.
Ron Thomas, president of steelworkers local 5795, at Press conference releasing details of Labrador west medical audit report.

Both the Steelworkers union and the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOCC) came out in support of the recommendations in the Labrador West medical audit, released on May 24.

Those recommendations are aimed at eliminating the problems caused by exposure to silica dust. They range from more education for workers and doctors, more testing to better auditing of dust conditions.

Ron Thomas, President of the Steelworkers local 5795, told the Aurora, “The recommendations will go a long way to help deal with the dust issue, as long as the recommendations are followed through and enforced.

"I’m particularly pleased that two occupational health and safety inspectors have been hired,” he said. “Now it's up to the union to keep a close eye on the situation to make sure rules are followed and any problems are reported and acted upon right away.”

Thomas added, there are still days when dust  levels can be high but he is optimistic that the recommendations and having two inspectors in Labrador West should mean vast improvements.

In a statement released soon after the report was tabled, IOC s director of Communications and external affairs Heather Bruce-Veitch said, "IOC is fully supportive of the recommendations released by Minister Perry Trimper, and is committed to working with the committee to see these implemented.”

She added the report shows that IOC is following the medical surveillance  protocol mandated by the silica code of practice, and the company makes sure required x-rays are done and followed up.

"Education is also an important part of our role " she told the Aurora, “and we continue to show employees their personal role in dust protection.”

Bruce-Veitch told the Aurora considerable improvements have been made in the past decades in dust monitoring and prevention, and the company acknowledges there have been impacts from dust, on people who have worked there in previous decades.

She also says the company will continue to work with employees, contractors, Unions and the provincial government to further reduce the exposure of workers to dust.

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