Occupational Health and Safety Code

The Occupational Health and Safety Code provides specific technical health and safety rules and requirements for Alberta workplaces.

Alberta Regulation 191/2021

Part 33 Explosives

Contents

Handling Explosives
Drilling
Loading
Firing
Destroying Explosives
Specific Blasting Activities
 

Application

 

465(1)

This Part applies to the use of explosives at a work site other than a mine site.

465(2)

This Part applies to the industrial use of explosives for the high energy welding of materials, including pipe and power transmission lines.

465(3)

This Part does not apply to the use of explosive actuated fastening tools at a work site.

 

Burning material

 

466(1)

An employer must ensure that no person smokes tobacco or burns material within 15 metres of an explosive.

466(2)

A person must not smoke tobacco or burn material within 15 metres of an explosive.

 

Safe work procedures

 

467(1)

An employer must prepare safe work procedures specific to the blasting activities undertaken by the employer.

467(2)

The safe work procedures for the handling of pyrotechnic and special effects devices and explosives must be based on

(a) NFPA Standard 1123, Code for Fireworks Display, 2006 Edition, and

(b) NFPA Standard 1126, Standard for the Use of Pyrotechnics Before a Proximate Audience, 2006 Edition.

 

Blasters

 

468(1)

An employer must ensure that a worker who handles, prepares, loads, fires, burns or destroys an explosive is

(a) a blaster, or

(b) under the direct supervision of a blaster.

468(2)

An employer must ensure that a blasting area and all supplies and equipment in the blasting area are under the direction and control of a blaster before blasting operations are allowed to begin and during blasting operations.

468(3)

If there are 2 or more blasters working at a blasting area, the employer must designate the responsibility under subsection (2) to one of them.

468(4)

A blaster in charge of a blasting operation must

(a) ensure that the blasting operation is carried out in accordance with the employer’s safe work procedures and this Code, and

(b) exercise direct control of the blasting area.

 

Issue of blaster’s permit

 

468.1(1)

A worker who handles, prepares, fires, burns or destroys an explosive must hold a blaster’s permit issued for that specific type of blasting operation as stated on the permit.

468.1(2)

A blaster’s permit may be issued by

(a) a Director, or

(b) an organization that is authorized by a Director.

468.1(3)

A worker may apply for a blaster’s permit in a manner authorized by a Director.

468.1(4)

An applicant for a blaster’s permit must

(a) have successfully completed a course and examination acceptable to a Director,

(b) have qualifications acceptable to a Director,

(c) provide a Director with written proof that the applicant

(i) has, within the previous 36 months, at least 6 months experience in handling, preparing, firing, burning or destroying explosives as a blaster or an assistant to a blaster, and

(ii) is, in the opinion of the applicant’s employer, competent to carry out the blasting operation,

or

(d) satisfy a Director that the applicant holds valid and current documentation from an equivalent certifying authority in another jurisdiction of Canada that is a blaster’s permit in that jurisdiction or that is recognized by a Director as the equivalent in that jurisdiction of a blaster’s permit issuable under this section.

468.1(5)

A Director may issue a blaster’s permit if the applicant

(a) is 18 years of age or older, and

(b) complies with subsection (4).

 

Expiry of permit

 

468.2(1)

The term of a blaster’s permit is that stipulated by a Director in the permit, which term is to have an expiry date not later than 5 years after the date of the issue of the permit.

468.2(2)

Notwithstanding subsection (1), a blaster’s permit issued to an applicant who qualifies for it by virtue of section 468.1(4)(b) expires at the time that the documentation referred to in that section expires or otherwise terminates.

 

Suspension and cancellation of permit

 

468.3(1)

Subject to this section, a Director may, by notice in writing, cancel a blaster’s permit or suspend it for the period specified in the notice if there is reason to believe that its holder

(a) contravened the Act, the regulations or this Code,

(b) otherwise used explosives, detonators or equipment in a manner that constitutes a hazard to the holder or other workers,

(c) is or was the holder of documentation referred to in section 468.1(4)(b) and that documentation is suspended or cancelled,

(d) provided false information to a Director or an officer, or

(e) did or failed to do anything that, in a Director’s opinion, warrants the cancellation or suspension.

468.3(2)

A Director may for any reason reassess the competency of the holder of a blaster’s permit, require any specified training to be undertaken or both.

468.3(3)

A Director who suspends or cancels a blaster’s permit issued by an organization referred to in section 468.1(2)(b) shall notify that organization of the suspension or cancellation.

468.3(4)

A Director who suspends or cancels a blaster’s permit shall give written reasons for the suspension or cancellation to the worker and the worker’s employer.

468.3(5)

The holder of a blaster’s permit shall surrender the permit immediately to an officer on request if it is suspended or cancelled.

 

Effect at work site of suspension or cancellation of permit

 

468.4

If a Director suspends or cancels a blaster’s permit held by a worker at a work site where explosives are used, all other blaster’s permits held by workers at the same work site are suspended until the employer gives a Director proof in writing acceptable to a Director that action has been taken to correct the conditions that led to the initial suspension or cancellation.

 

Employer records of blaster permits

 

468.5

An employer must ensure that a current list of the blasters employed by the employer, listing each blaster’s name, the issuer of the permit, the permit number and the permit expiry date, is maintained and readily available for reference by an officer.

 

Amendment of permit

 

468.6(1)

A Director may amend a blaster’s permit.

468.6(2)

If a holder of a blaster’s permit applies to a Director to amend the terms of the blaster’s permit to include the experimental use of explosives not otherwise covered by the blaster’s permit, the application must include a description of the experimental use, including

(a) the explosive to be used,

(b) the detonator and method of detonation,

(c) details of the transportation, handling, preparation and loading of the explosives and detonators,

(d) the name of the supervisor in charge of the operation,

(e) the name of the blaster, the blaster’s permit number and the issuer of the permit, and

(f) any other information a Director requires.

 

Possession of blaster’s permit

 

468.7

The holder of a blaster’s permit must have the original, valid blaster’s permit at the work site while a blasting operation is in progress.

 

Reporting incidents involving explosives

 

469

An employer must include the following in a report under section 33(1) of the Act on an incident arising from an unplanned or uncontrolled explosion or fire:

(a) the name of the blaster;

(b) the blaster’s permit number, if any, and the issuer of the permit;

(c) the date, time and place of the incident;

(d) the make, type and date code of the explosives;

(e) the type and method of detonation;

(f) the purpose for which the explosives were being used;

(g) the make, type and size of detonator used;

(h) the conditions at the site;

(i) the names of injured persons, if any;

(j) the names and addresses of witnesses.

Handling Explosives
 

Canadian guidelines

 

470(1)

An employer must ensure that a blaster complies with, and a blaster must comply with, Blasting Explosives and Detonators — Storage, Possession, Transportation, Destruction and Sale (M82 8/1983), Revised 1993, published by Natural Resources Canada.

470(2)

An employer must ensure that a magazine is constructed in accordance with Storage Standards for Industrial Explosives (M81 7/2001E) published by Natural Resources Canada.

 

Intermittent storage

 

471

An employer and a blaster must ensure that explosives are returned to the appropriate magazine between periods of work.

 

Light sources in magazines

 

472

An employer must ensure that artificial light sources used in a magazine are of such closed and protected construction, position or character that they will not cause a fire or explosion when lit or if they are dropped.

 

Transporting explosives

 

473(1)

An employer must ensure workers comply with the Dangerous Goods Transportation and Handling Act and the Explosives Act (Canada) when transporting explosives.

473(2)

An employer must ensure that only the person authorized by the employer drives or is a passenger in a vehicle that is transporting explosives or detonators.

473(3)

An employer and a blaster must ensure that the leg wires of electric detonators are shunted and folded while they are being transported.

473(4)

An employer must ensure that vehicles transporting explosives have fire extinguishers that are

(a) in good working order,

(b) located and attached to the vehicle in such a manner as to be readily available for use at all times, and

(c) in the quantity and with the rating set out in Schedule 10, Table 1.

 

Oldest used first

 

474

A blaster must ensure that the oldest explosive is taken from a magazine first and is used first.

 

Deteriorated or damaged explosive

 

475

An employer must ensure that a deteriorated or damaged explosive is

(a) not used in any blasting operation, and

(b) destroyed or disposed of safely by a blaster.

 

Unused explosives

 

476

An employer must ensure that unused explosives, fuse assemblies or detonators are

(a) stored in accordance with this Code, or

(b) destroyed or disposed of safely by a blaster.

 

Appropriate quantities

 

477(1)

An employer must ensure that explosives are brought to a work site in charge strengths appropriate to the blasting operation at the work site.

477(2)

A blaster must not remove from the magazine more explosives than are required to complete each task.

477(3)

A blaster must ensure that a charge is sectioned or cut only if there is no reasonable alternative available.

 

Cutting or piercing

 

478

An employer and a blaster must ensure that an explosive is sectioned, cut or pierced only

(a) with tools made of non‑sparking material, and

(b) on a clean, wooden surface free from grit or other foreign matter.

 

Cartridge explosives

 

479(1)

An employer must ensure that cartridge explosives are not removed from their original outer cover.

479(2)

A person must not remove a cartridge explosive from its original outer cover.

 

Tools

 

480

An employer must provide workers with standard crimping tools and a safe location for

(a) crimping detonators to detonating cord, and

(b) cutting fuses.

 

Priming

 

481(1)

A blaster must ensure that

(a) a charge is primed only at the blasting site, and

(b) all explosives, other than the total charge to be loaded, are kept in a magazine.

481(2)

A blaster must ensure that a charge is not primed in a magazine or a place where other explosives are stored.

481(3)

An employer and a blaster must ensure that workers do not assemble primed charges before the hole‑drilling operation is complete.

481(4)

An employer and a blaster must ensure that workers prepare and load one charge at a time, and then only for the drill hole or bore hole at which they are working.

 

Length of safety fuse assemblies

 

482

A blaster must ensure that safety fuse assemblies used in a blasting operation are at least 1 metre long.

 

Detonators

 

483

A blaster must ensure that detonators made by different manufacturers are not used together in a single blasting circuit.

 

Storms

 

484

An employer and a blaster must ensure that a blasting operation using electric detonators is not performed during or on the approach of an electrical storm or a severe dust storm.

Drilling
 

Drilling location

 

485

An employer and a blaster must ensure that a worker does not drill in or adjacent to a drill hole or bore hole that contains, or may contain, an explosive that could be detonated by the drilling operation.

 

Bootleg

 

486(1)

An employer and a blaster must ensure that a worker examines a bootleg and, if possible, it is washed out or blown out before a worker drills in that area.

486(2)

If a worker finds an explosive in a bootleg, the employer and blaster must ensure that a charge is promptly inserted and detonated to destroy the explosive in the bootleg.

 

Size of drill hole

 

487

An employer and a blaster must ensure that a drill hole or borehole is big enough to allow a worker to insert the explosive charge without using excessive force.

 

Prohibition

 

488(1)

A person must not look directly into a drill hole during a blasting operation.

488(2)

An employer and a blaster must ensure that a worker does not look directly into a drill hole during a blasting operation.

Loading
 

Unwinding detonator leg wires

 

489(1)

An employer and a blaster must ensure that a worker unravels or unwinds detonator leg wires slowly when a charge is lowered into a drill hole or borehole.

489(2)

A worker must not unravel or unwind detonator leg wires by

(a) throwing them on the ground, or

(b) dragging them along the ground.

 

Static electricity

 

490

An employer and a blaster must ensure that the build‑up of static electricity is minimized at a work site where workers are handling explosives.

 

Tamping explosives

 

491(1)

An employer must ensure that loading poles, tamping poles and pole extension fittings are made of non‑sparking, anti‑static material.

491(2)

A blaster must ensure that a worker does not use excessive force when tamping explosives.

 

Sequential firing

 

492

A blaster must ensure that detonating connectors used to provide sequential firing are delayed to minimize misfires resulting from cutting off holes.

 

Detonation within 30 days

 

493

An employer must ensure that workers detonate all loaded drill holes or bore holes within 30 calendar days of the date they are loaded unless an extension of that period is approved by a Director.

 

Detonator leg wires

 

494(1)

An employer and a blaster must ensure that detonator leg wires of loaded drill holes and bore holes

(a) are not exposed for more than 600 millimetres above ground level,

(b) are shunted, and

(c) are wrapped on a wooden or plastic lath or a wire pin flag.

494(2)

The employer must ensure that the position of the drill hole or bore hole is marked by setting the base of the wooden or plastic lath or wire pin flag in the drill hole or bore hole.

 

Testing detonators and circuits

 

495(1)

An employer and a blaster must ensure that all electric detonators and the complete firing circuit are tested with a galvanometer or circuit tester before firing.

495(2)

An employer must ensure that workers test detonators and firing circuits only with galvanometers or circuit testers designed for use with detonators.

 

Damaged leads and wires

 

496

An employer and a blaster must ensure that workers do not use damaged leads and damaged connecting wires in blasting circuits.

 

Connecting down lines to trunk cords

 

497

A blaster must ensure that a worker who is using detonating cord with explosives connects or attaches down lines to trunk cords only after all the drill holes and boreholes are loaded.

Firing
 

Community protection

 

498

If an employer or a blaster is conducting blasting operations in the vicinity of a city, town, village, hamlet, inhabited campsite, other inhabited area, building, railway or road, the employer and the blaster must take adequate precautions against possible injury to persons and damage to property by

(a) limiting the explosive charge to the minimum required to do the job,

(b) using a blasting mat or other suitable protective device over the drill hole, bore hole or blasting area,

(c) closing roads, trails, paths and other approaches to the blasting area during blasting operations, and

(d) placing warning signs or barricades or using flag persons to ensure that no unauthorized person enters or remains in the area that is potentially dangerous.

 

Safe distance

 

499(1)

When the blasting is being done, a blaster must ensure that

(a) all workers at the work site are protected from falling rocks, flying debris, mud and anything else that is disturbed, agitated or displaced by the blast, and

(b) no worker fires a charge until all workers are protected by suitable cover or are at a safe distance from the blast.

499(2)

For seismic blasting operations, the minimum safe distance referred to in subsection (1)(b) is 30 metres.

499(3)

For the purposes of operations involving pyrotechnic and special effects devices and explosives, the minimum blasting distances are those in

(a) NFPA Standard 1123, Code for Fireworks Display, (2006 Edition), and

(b) NFPA Standard 1126, Standard for the Use of Pyrotechnics Before a Proximate Audience, (2006 Edition).

 

Stray electric currents

 

500

An employer and a blaster must prevent sources of stray electric currents from prematurely detonating electric detonators.

 

Overhead power line

 

501(1)

If a worker is blasting within 60 metres of an overhead power line, an employer and a blaster must ensure that the worker uses

(a) detonating cord as a down line to the explosive charge, and

(b) a short leg‑wire detonator to initiate the detonating cord.

501(2)

The employer and the blaster must ensure that the leg wire referred to in subsection (1) is shorter than the distance from the overhead power line to the nearest ground level in the vicinity of the blasting operation.

 

Above ground charge

 

502

An employer and a blaster must ensure that if a detonator discharges above the surface of the ground, the detonator is covered by a blasting mat or other protective device that confines fragments of debris created by the discharge.

 

Radiofrequency transmitters

 

503(1)

Subject to subsections (2) and (4), a worker must not load, prime or fire a charge using electric detonators in the vicinity of an actively transmitting radiofrequency transmitter unless the distance from the drill hole or borehole closest to the base of the nearest transmitter antenna is at least the distance required by Schedule 10, Table 2 or Table 3 as is applicable.

503(2)

An employer and a blaster must ensure that detonator leg wires are shunted directly or through a blasting machine if a radiofrequency transmitter is used within the minimum separation distance limits specified by Schedule 10, Table 2 or Table 3 as is applicable.

503(3)

A person who brings a cellular telephone within 50 metres of an electric detonator must

(a) turn the cellular telephone off before advising the blaster of the presence of the telephone, and

(b) follow the blaster’s instructions respecting the use of cellular telephones.

503(4)

An employer and a blaster must ensure that detonator leg wires are shunted directly or through a blasting machine if there is an actively transmitting cellular telephone within the minimum separation distance limits specified by Schedule 10, Table 3.

 

Length of fuse assembly

 

504

A blaster must ensure that all safety fuse assemblies are long enough to

(a) protrude from the collar of the borehole, and

(b) allow the blaster to reach a safe location after the blaster ignites the safety fuse.

 

Blasting machine

 

505(1)

An employer and blaster must ensure that workers use blasting machines designed for use with explosives in all electrically controlled blasting operations.

505(2)

A worker must not use a battery system for electric blasting.

505(3)

Repealed.

 

Shunting the firing line

 

506

Before and after a charge is fired, a blaster must ensure that

(a) the firing line is shunted if the blasting machine is not connected to the firing line, or

(b) the blasting machine is set to its “safe” or “unarmed” position if it is connected to the firing line.

 

Loaded hole

 

507

If a loaded hole cannot be immediately detonated safely within a reasonable time after it is loaded, an employer and a blaster must ensure that clearly visible signs are posted in the location of the loaded hole warning of the presence of the loaded hole.

Destroying Explosives
 

Standards

 

508

An employer must ensure that explosives are destroyed in accordance with the recognized safe practices set out in the guideline Blasting Explosives and Detonators — Storage, Possession, Transportation, Destruction and Sale (M82 8/1983), Revised 1993, published by Natural Resources Canada.

 

Misfire waiting period

 

509(1)

If a blaster fired a charge using a safety fuse assembly and delay detonators and suspects a misfire, the employer and the blaster must ensure that no worker returns to or is permitted to approach the blasting area before the end of the longer of the following periods:

(a) 30 minutes after the last charge was fired or should have fired; or

(b) the period recommended by the manufacturer.

509(2)

If a blaster fired a charge using electric detonators and suspects a misfire, the employer and the blaster must ensure that no worker returns to or is permitted to approach the blasting area before the end of the longer of the following periods:

(a) 10 minutes after the last charge was fired or should have fired; or

(b) the period recommended by the manufacturer.

 

Withdrawing a misfire

 

510(1)

If a blaster fires a charge and there is a misfire, the blaster must ensure that no worker attempts to withdraw the charge.

510(2)

Subsection (1) does not apply to a misfire that occurs during oil well blasting and perforating operations.

 

Destroying a misfire

 

511(1)

Subject to section 512, an employer and a blaster must ensure that the blaster inserts a charge on top of or beside a misfire and detonates it.

511(2)

If a misfire cannot be detonated immediately, an employer and a blaster must

(a) ensure that clearly visible signs are posted in the location of the misfire warning of the presence of the misfire, and

(b) detonate it in accordance with subsection (1) as soon as reasonably practicable.

 

Abandoned charge

 

512(1)

An employer must ensure that a misfire or misfired charge is abandoned only if it cannot be detonated safely.

512(2)

If a blaster cannot safely detonate a misfire or an unfired charge in a drill hole, the employer and the blaster may abandon it if

(a) the blaster cuts its detonator lead wires and places them in the drill hole beneath the surface,

(b) the drill hole is covered with surface cuttings,

(c) the drill hole’s location is marked, and

(d) a permanent record of the misfire and its location is kept by the employer.

 

Removal of waste

 

513

Before abandoning a blasting area, an employer and a blaster must ensure that the following are destroyed or removed for destruction:

(a) all pieces of charges that have blown from the shot hole;

(b) all wrappings or boxes used in the handling of explosives;

(c) all other waste from the blasting operations.

 

Loss or theft

 

514

An employer must ensure that the loss or theft of explosives from a work site is immediately reported to the nearest Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment and the Chief Inspector of Explosives, Natural Resources Canada.

Specific Blasting Activities
 

Avalanche control

 

515(1)

This section applies to blasting used to control avalanches.

515(2)

Despite section 481, during avalanche control activities involving the hand deployment of explosive charges,

(a) a blaster may prime charges away from the blasting site, and

(b) may prime more than one charge at a time.

515(3)

An employer must ensure that charges are primed by a blaster during avalanche control activities

(a) as close to the control route as possible, and

(b) in a safe, sheltered location from which the public are excluded.

515(4)

An employer and a blaster must ensure that a worker does not carry primed charges and their pull‑wire fuse lighters in the same container.

515(5)

A blaster must ensure that the pull‑wire fuse lighter is not connected to the safety fuse assembly of a primed charge until immediately before the charge is placed.

 

Oil well blasting

 

516(1)

This section applies to oil well blasting and perforating.

516(2)

An employer must ensure that perforating activities are done in accordance with practices approved by a Director.

516(3)

A competent worker who is not a blaster may load perforating explosives, other than detonators, into a perforating gun or a down hole tool if the worker has readily available access to a blaster.

516(4)

An employer must ensure that a blaster is available to assist the worker referred to in subsection (3).

516(5)

An employer must ensure that a blaster

(a) detonates perforating explosives, including using a drop bar in a tubing‑conveyed perforating firing system, and

(b) retrieves a perforating firing system from the well bore.

516(6)

Before and after a charge is fired, a blaster must ensure that the blasting machine is disconnected from the firing circuit by switching it to its “safe” or “unarmed” position.

516(7)

In the event that an armed explosive device is at the surface, a blaster must ensure that all power and electronic transmitting devices within 20 metres of the explosive device are turned off.

 

Seismic blasting and drilling

 

517(1)

This section applies to seismic blasting and drilling.

517(2)

Despite section 466, a worker may use an open flame to warm water on a seismic drill if

(a) the flame is used by a worker under the direct supervision of a blaster or by a competent worker designated by the blaster,

(b) propane is the fuel source of the flame, and

(c) the propane compressed gas cylinder used has a regulator.

517(3)

Before a worker uses an open flame to warm water on a seismic drill, the blaster must ensure that

(a) all explosives not used in the particular seismic activity are returned to magazines on the drill rig,

(b) all magazines are closed and locked,

(c) the water tank, piping or valve being heated and the flame end of the torch are at least 600 millimetres away from the closest magazine,

(d) all compressed gas cylinders are secured and located at least 600 millimetres from the closed magazine,

(e) all combustible materials are removed from the vicinity of the magazines and the open flame, and

(f) a fire extinguisher is readily available to the worker.