The Mine Safety and Health Administration has published an emergency temporary standard that revises the existing federal standard by increasing the amount of rock dust that mines must use to counteract explosive coal dust.
The change comes in the aftermath of the Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion which killed 28 miners in West Virginia in April 2010. Applying strictly to underground bituminous coal mines, the emergency temporary standard revises the earlier standard by requiring mine operators to increase the total incombustible content of the combined coal dust, rock dust and other dust to 80 percent from 65 percent in all accessible areas.
“Coal dust can cause explosions and explosions kill miners. Inadequate rock dusting can dramatically increase the potential for a coal mine explosion,” says Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “Compliance with the new standard will strengthen the protection for miners by minimizing the potential for such an explosion and, ultimately, will save lives.”
Info to go: Read more about coal dust explosion hazards by clicking on the Info to Go safety links at www.SafeSupervisor.comRead More
Thirty-three Chilean miners trapped deep inside a gold/copper mine may have to wait until well into November or even December for a new shaft to be drilled so they can be rescued.
The miners, who were trapped by a cave-in, took refuge in an underground shelter. They were able to send notes to the surface via probes that were drilled into their area. Water, food and medicines are being delivered to the trapped miners through the probes.Read More
The Committee on Education and Labor has passed the Miner Safety and Health Act of 2010, largely in response to the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion, which killed 29 West Virginia miners in early April 2010.
The Act aims to make mines with serious and repeated violations safer and ensure that irresponsible operators are held accountable. It also gives the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) stronger enforcement tools and better protects miners who speak out about unsafe conditions.
US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis says the legislation represents an important step forward in strengthening safety laws for US miners.Read More
An international study says that mining for gold, diamonds and precious minerals in sub-Saharan Africa could be driving a tuberculosis epidemic on that continent.
Researchers at Oxford and Brown universities, the University of California and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimate that the mining industry may be implicated in 760,000 annual new cases of tuberculosis—a contagious and potentially fatal disease that affects the lungs and other parts of the human body.
The researchers say that silica dust in mines, coupled with crowded working and living conditions and the spread of HIV/AIDS is driving the epidemic.
“Men traveling from afar to work in mines, such as from Botswana to South Africa, are at the greatest risk of getting tuberculosis,” states a news release from the University of Oxford in England. “But their wives, children and friends are also at high risk when miners travel back and forth to work, often many times a year.”
Even if TB is diagnosed in miners and treatment begins, the information frequently does not get back to doctors in the miners’ hometowns. This disruption of treatment poses a major threat of people developing a drug-resistant form of the disease, according to the study’s authors.
“Healthcare programs should emphasize continuity of care as miners travel across borders and miners should undergo routine screening in order to detect TB at an early stage,” states the news release. There’s also a need “to improve poor working conditions and reduce the miners’ exposure to silica dust.”
TB has been on the rise in sub-Saharan Africa during the past two decades, with a doubling of the year incidence from 173 per 100,000 people in 1990 to 351 per 100,000 people in 2007.
Info to go: Read more about tuberculosis by clicking on the Info to Go safety links at www.SafeSupervisor.comRead More
Standing on a makeshift platform spanning the forks of a lift truck isn’t safe. In California, doing so proved lethal for a 29-year-old worker.
Alejandro Valladares fell headfirst about 30 feet (9.1 meters) into a hole from a plywood platform on a forklift. He had been operating a handheld compactor to push down a piling. The vibration caused Valladares to lose his balance and fall into the deep hole.
Making matters worse was the fact that sandy soil in the hole collapsed onto the worker, leaving only part of one of his legs exposed. It took emergency services workers more than two hours to free his body.
It’s dangerous enough to stand on a platform haphazardly spanning a forklift’s forks, but in this situation the vibration escalated the risk. And the unstable hole was the third hazard that sealed Valladares’ fate.
A worker who needs to be in a raised position to perform tasks should be using a properly designed lifting platform, which is firmly secured to the forks and provides guardrails and other safety features. Proper platforms also allow workers to tie themselves off using safety belts.Read More
Massey Energy says underground teams investigating the deadly explosion at its Upper Big Branch Mine have found a floor crack that possibly allowed methane gas to leak before the blast.
However, the company says more investigation is needed to determine whether the crack is connected to the explosion, which claimed 29 miners’ lives on April 5, 2010.
“The crack and other potential sources in the mine need to be fully examined before any conclusions can be reached,” the company said in a statement.Read More
A November 2009 fire and explosion that killed two workers and seriously injured two others has resulted in a whopping $1,322,000 proposed fine against a Mississippi shipbuilding company.
The incident occurred in the inner bottom void of a tugboat under construction at the VT Halter Marine Inc. facility in Escatawpa, MS.
“This was a horrific and preventable situation. The employer was aware of the hazards and knowingly and willfully sent workers into a confined space with an explosive and toxic atmosphere,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.Read More
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin has announced that a Mine and Industrial Accident Safety Hotline/Tip Line aimed at improving mine and industrial safety in the state is now operational.
The hotline, being handled by the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (WVDHSEM) call center, is staffed 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Callers may choose to remain anonymous.
“I want all miners and workers from any other industry in West Virginia to feel empowered to report problems in the workplace without fear of retribution,” says Manchin. “This hotline will hopefully encourage more workers to become involved in strengthening safety procedures from the front lines.”
Utilizing the WVDHSEM office will ensure that an independent agency which is not affiliated with any regulatory agency is receiving calls. Calls will be forwarded to appropriate regulatory or law enforcement agencies and those agencies will be required to report back to WVDHSEM to ensure issues have been addressed.
“No one should hesitate to call the safety hotline (at 1-866-808-0875) with concerns, no matter how large or small,” says Manchin.Read More
A West Virginia man is struggling to cope with not only the loss of his 21-year-old son in a mine explosion, but also the deaths of his brother and a nephew.
Tommy Davis, 42, told Today show host Matt Lauer that the last words he heard his son, Cory, speak that morning were, “I love you too, old man! I’m going to go cut me some coal.”
Tom’s older brother, Timmy, 51, and 27-year-old nephew, Joshua, also perished in the early April explosion at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in Montcoal, WV. The explosion killed 29 miners, making it the worst mining disaster in the United States in 26 years.
As he made his own way out of the mine that day, Tommy felt a gust of wind and didn’t think much of it until he realized that Cory, Timmy and Joshua should have been coming out too, but weren’t. He later learned that all three had perished in the blast.
Tom said Cory loved working at the mine and was close to getting his “black hat,” indicating that he was a certified miner.
“I just want everybody to know Cory was a great kid,” he told Lauer. “He loved his job and he loved everybody around him. And he’s going to be missed, big time.”Read More
When more than 100 workers are trapped underground for several days, the outcome is rarely positive. But in what is being described as a miracle, 115 miners were rescued after being trapped in a flooded coal mine in northern China for more than a week.
Sadly, at least 36 miners died in the flooded mine.
The workers who were found alive ate tree bark and sawdust and drank dirty water to survive. They became trapped after digging into an old mine shaft filled with water. A preliminary investigation found that mine managers had ignored water leaks before the mine flooded.
Rescuers pumped water out of the mine for several days before hearing tapping sounds that indicated people were alive. Rescuers used rubber rafts to rescue the trapped miners.Read More