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Nevada: MSHA Issues 135 Citations to Mining Company

February 4, 2014 Leave a comment

ELKO, NV — The Mine Safety and Health Administration said Veris Gold failed to protect employees from harm at the company’s Jerritt Canyon Mill, after issuing 61 citations and orders to the site.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s MSHA announced the results of the December inspections Wednesday. The inspectors issued 135 citations, 24 orders and one safeguard during special impact inspections conducted at 11 coal mines and two metal and nonmetal mines.

The two highlighted properties in the inspection report were Jerritt Canyon and Hanover Resources LLC’s Caymus Mine in Boone County, W. Va. Caymus Mine produces coal.

“These two examples clearly indicate that some mine operators still don’t get it,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “They simply failed to comply with the Mine Act and find and fix hazards to protect miners from injury, illness and death.”

Veris Gold said “Jerritt Canyon takes all citations and actions from MSHA seriously and its management has been working with them diligently to review all claims. As of January 16, 2014, all citations and actions have been either acknowledged or met.

“It is important to note that the Jerritt Canyon Operations has an exemplary safety record with no fatalities since it began operating in 1982. Safety is our priority, and we will continue to work with MSHA in order to continue to ensure the safety of all employees.

“Recently, Veris Gold USA initiated a Safety Enhancement Program that is the personal responsibility of Graham Dickson, COO. This program will ensure that all employees remain secure at work and return home safely to their families at the end of the day.”

Jerritt Canyon received 49 citations and 12 orders after its inspection that began on Dec. 16. Veris Gold owns the Jerritt Canyon Mill Complex, which is 50 miles north of Elko and has more than 120 employees. The complex property includes three gold mines: Smith, SSX-Steer and Starvation Canyon.

According to the federal agency, “among the hazardous conditions cited during the inspection, MSHA found that an electrician working in the crusher area had been cleaning and performing maintenance on a 480-volt fully-energized switch gear, and there were spent mercury containers found at the bottom of wet mill stairs rather than being stored in a manner that would protect miners from mercury exposure. Nearly four feet of dirt had accumulated on the left side of a conveyor belt, blocking access to the steps and catwalk used to reach the plant and potentially hindering escape during an emergency.

“Inspectors also found: a chemical container improperly labeled; no warning signs for hazardous chemical storage; several unsecured gas cylinders; no provision for safe access in several locations; missing electrical cover plates on energized outlets; an improperly grounded cable; unlabeled breakers that exposed miners to electrical hazards; a broken ladder and insufficient illumination; failure to conduct workplace exams and air receiver tanks equipped with the wrong size pressure relief valves, creating the potential hazard of an exploding vessel.”

On Dec. 19, while MSHA inspectors were still on site, an electrical explosion and subsequent fire injured two employees in the mill.

The employees were injured after an arc flash and minor fire, said Shaun Heinrichs, chief financial officer for Veris Gold.

“One employee was airlifted with burns and another was taken into Elko with smoke inhalation,” Heinrichs told the Free Press in December. “Our thoughts are with our employees and their families. Safety is our utmost priority.”

Tim Woolever, Nevada Division of Forestry chief for the northern region, responded to the scene to handle the fire. He believed at least one of the men injured was an electrician who was working on a 480-volt panel.

MSHA inspected the Caymus Mine on Dec. 11 and issued 13 violations. The inspection party monitored the mine’s communication system to prevent advance notice of their arrival, and they proceeded to inspect the mine’s two working sections and a large portion of the conveyor belt. MSHA issued seven unwarrantable failure orders and six citations. This was the first impact inspection at this mine.

Since April 2010, MSHA has conducted 700 impact inspections and issued 11,562 citations, 1,076 orders and 49 safeguards.

Story Via ElkoDaily.com

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Managers Blamed for NV Mine Deaths – Lack of Electrical System Maintenance Cited

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment

RENO, NV –  Two Nevadans were killed in a mining accident partly because someone wedged a broom handle against a reset button to bypass an alarm that would have shut down the system, federal safety investigators said.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration said Monday that managers of Barrick Goldstrike’s Meikle Mine are responsible for the August 2010 accident in Carlin that killed Daniel Noel, 47, and Joel “Ethan” Schorr, 38.

The two Spring Creek men were struck by a pipe that gave way in a ventilation shaft because it was clogged with excessive waste rock material.

MSHA said the pipe overfilled because the broom handle kept the loading system from tripping off. The agency blames managers for failing to ensure the safe operation, inspection and maintenance of the mine.

“Management failed to ensure that the pipe, its support system, and electrical system were maintained in a safe condition to protect all persons who could be exposed to a hazard from any failure of the system,” MSHA said in the new report issued Monday.

“Additionally, management failed to maintain the electrical sensors and alarm systems and ensure that these systems could not be by-passed. A broom handle was used to wedge the electrical control panel reset button so the aggregate delivery system would continue to operate and not trip out,” the report said.

MSHA issued Toronto-based Barrick six safety violations as a result of the accident. MSHA terminated the last of the safety orders stemming from those violations on June 21 after Barrick constructed a new aggregate delivery system that eliminated the hazards, the agency said.

Amy Louviere, a spokeswoman for MSHA’s parent Labor Department in Washington, said now that the investigative report is complete, MSHA officials will begin to consider what, if any, fines are warranted for each of the six safety violations.

Fines can range anywhere from $60 to $220,000 per violation, Louivere said. Once notified of an assessment, a company has 30 days to either pay it or contest it, she said.

Greg Lang, president of Barrick Gold of North America, said the findings “affirm Barrick’s belief that every accident is preventable.”

“While we have made great progress over many years at Barrick, this tragic accident reminds all of us that we have yet to achieve our goal of zero accidents and zero injuries,” Lang said in a statement on Monday. He said the company will thoroughly review MSHA’s report “to identify actions that need to be taken to prevent a similar accident at Meikle or any other Barrick mine.”

“Nothing can compensate for the impact that the loss of Dan Noel and Ethan Schorr has had on their loved ones and everyone who knew them, and our thoughts and prayers remain with their families,” he said.

The men were being lowered in the cage to inspect the pipe when the accident occurred about 2 a.m. on Aug. 12, 2010. Rescue crews found their bodies 32 hours later at an area about 1,300 feet below ground at the mine about 55 miles northwest of Elko and 275 miles northeast of Reno.

It marked the sixth and seventh fatalities at the mine since it opened in 1994.

One worker told investigators he had been asked to be on lookout on the day shift before the accident “because another employee had wedged a broom handle against the electrical control panel reset button and he wanted to be alerted if a supervisor was approaching,” MSHA’s report said.

MSHA investigators discovered a modified broom handle hidden near the instrument panel reset button.

“The end of the broom handle had been shaped with a notch of the correct size to allow it to be used to jam the panel reset button,” the report said. “Investigators positioned the broom handle and found it to fit perfectly when wedged between an electrical junction box and the instrument panel reset button.”

Story via FoxNews.com

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MSHA Fatal Arc Flash Report Finds Negligence

January 21, 2011 Leave a comment

The following is an accident report by the US Depart of Labor on the death of  Michael Solomon.

UNITED STATES

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION

Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health

REPORT OF INVESTIGATION

Surface Nonmetal Mine

(Granite)

Fatal Electrical Accident

October 10, 2010

Hertzler Electrical Services LLC

Contractor ID No. R495

at

Martin Marietta Materials, Inc.

Snyder Mine

Snyder, Kiowa County, Oklahoma

Mine ID No. 34-01651

Investigators

Gary L. Cook

Mine Safety and Health Specialist

Dennis E. Robinson

Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Maxwell A. Clark

Electrical Engineer

Originating Office

Mine Safety and Health Administration

South Central District

1100 Commerce Street, Room 462

Dallas, TX 75242-0499

Edward E. Lopez, District Manager


 On October 10, 2010, Michael A. Solomon, contract apprentice electrician, age 42, and two co-workers were seriously injured when an arc flash occurred. They were performing maintenance work on an electrical circuit breaker. The circuit breaker was in the “OFF” position but remained energized on the input side. They were all hospitalized. Solomon died on October 12, 2010, as a result of his injuries.

OVERVIEW

 

The accident occurred because contractor management procedures failed to ensure that the electrical circuit breaker was de-energized prior to performing work on it.

Snyder Mine (Snyder), a surface granite mine, owned and operated by Martin Marietta Materials (Martin), is located near Snyder, Kiowa County, Oklahoma. The principal operating official is Joseph Schulte, plant manager. The mine operates one 8-hour shift per day, five days per week. Total employment is 23 persons.

GENERAL INFORMATION

 

Hertzler Electrical Services (Hertzler), an electrical contracting company, is located in Duncan, Stephens County, Oklahoma. Hertzler performs electrical work at Snyder on an as-needed basis. The principal operating official is Kelly Hertzler, owner. Hertzler employed 26 persons. Michael A. Solomon (victim) and 3 other Hertzler employees were working at Snyder at the time of the accident.

Granite is drilled and blasted from multiple benches in the quarry. Front-end loaders load broken rock into haul trucks. The material is then transported to the plant where it is crushed and stockpiled. Material is sold for use in asphalt and as railroad ballast.

The last regular inspection at this operation was completed on July 28, 2010.

DESCRIPTION OF THE ACCIDENT

On the day of the accident, Michael Solomon, apprentice electrician, reported for work at 5:30 a.m. at Hertzler’s office in Duncan, Oklahoma. He and Robert Law, journeyman electrician and supervisor, drove to Snyder while Christopher Bethany, apprentice electrician, and Christopher Fowler, apprentice electrician, drove to Snyder in another vehicle. About 7:00 a.m., the four electricians arrived at Snyder to complete a job they had started on October 8, 2010. They were replacing a junction box and installing new cables for six electric motors.

After completing the planned electrical work, Law asked Kenneth Piper, plant operator, to start the plant so they could check the new installations. Piper energized the plant for 20 minutes then de-energized it after verifying that all new installations were functional.

Hertzler employees frequently worked at Martin plants and they had been asked to install ground fault indicator lights at all plants when it was convenient to do so. With that request in mind, Law decided to install ground fault indicator lights at the main circuit breaker for the primary plant.

At 12:45 p.m., Bethany, Law, and Solomon entered the MCC trailer to install the indicator lights. Fowler remained outside to put away materials and equipment that were not needed. Piper had gone to the plant break room. The main circuit breaker was turned to the “OFF” position prior to working on the indicator lights. However, the fuses at the nearby transformer station were not removed to de-energize the circuit breaker. The input side of the main circuit breaker remained energized.

At 12:55 p.m., Solomon was kneeling in front of the main circuit breaker while Bethany and Law were standing next to him. The indicator lights had been mounted on the inside door of the cabinet which enclosed the main circuit breaker. One end of the ground wire for the indicator lights had been connected and the bottom section of the cover for the main circuit breaker had been removed when the accident occurred.

A fault condition was created while the electricians were working on the energized side of the main circuit breaker and an arc flash occurred. The 480-volt lead wires dropped from the bottom side of the main circuit breaker and one of the phases contacted the cabinet which enclosed the circuit breaker.

The three employees inside the MCC trailer were injured but managed to exit to the outside. Fowler heard the arc flash and ran to the MCC trailer to offer assistance. Piper heard the arc flash and came to the scene before calling for emergency medical services (EMS).

EMS arrived at 1:14 p.m., treated all the injured persons, and transported them to a hospital, where Solomon died on October 12, 2010, as a result of his injuries.

INVESTIGATION OF THE ACCIDENT

On the day of the accident, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) was notified at 1:44 p.m. by a telephone call from Joseph Schulte, plant manager, to MSHA’s emergency hotline. Lawrence Dunlap, supervisory mine safety and health inspector, was notified and an investigation was started the same day. An order was issued pursuant to section 103(j) of the Mine Act to ensure the safety of miners. This order was later modified to section 103(k) of the Mine Act. A citation was issued for untimely reporting of the accident.

MSHA’s investigators traveled to the mine, made a physical inspection of the accident scene, interviewed employees, and reviewed documents and work procedures relevant to the accident. MSHA conducted the investigation with the assistance of mine management, contractor management, the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board and the Oklahoma Department of Mines.

DISCUSSION

Location of the Accident

The accident occurred in the MCC trailer, which was located at ground level about 30 feet from the primary plant. The MCC trailer was a metal shipping container with a wooden floor.

Weather conditions at the mine were clear skies with an air temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The weather conditions were not considered to be a factor in the accident.

Electrical Equipment

A local power company provided 12,470-volt service to the primary plant at three 500-kva transformers. The transformers were mounted on elevated bracing between two power poles located about 15 feet from the MCC trailer. The transformers were protected by 65-amp fuses located at the top of one of the poles.

The secondary side of the transformers supplied 480-volt power to the main circuit breaker, located in the MCC trailer for the primary plant. Two parallel conductors per phase were routed from the output side of the transformers through a weatherhead in the top of the MCC trailer to the bottom side of the main circuit breaker.

The main circuit breaker for the primary plant was a “bottom feed” breaker located in a Type 4 cabinet in the MCC trailer. The main breaker specifications were unverifiable since the breaker was severely damaged as a result of the accident. The power conductors from the transformers entered the main circuit breaker from the bottom side rather than the top side as is typical with most electrical circuit breakers. This arrangement made it necessary to route the incoming power cables from the top of the MCC trailer down to the inside floor then bend them back up 180 degrees into the lugs of the main circuit breaker.

Training and Experience

Michael A. Solomon (victim) had 5 years, 10 months of experience, including 4 months at this mine. He had received all training required by 30 CFR Part 46.

Christopher C. Bethany had 2 years, 5 months of experience, including 4 months at this mine. He had received all training required by 30 CFR Part 46.

Christopher L. Fowler had 12 days of experience, including 2 days experience at this mine. He had not received all the training required by 30 CFR Part 46. A non-contributory citation was issued.

Robert E. Law had 13 years, 6 months of experience, including 6 months at this mine. He had received all training required by 30 CFR Part 46.

ROOT CAUSE ANALYSIS

A root cause analysis was conducted and the following root cause was identified:

Root Cause: Contractor management procedures failed to ensure that the electrical circuit breaker was de-energized prior to performing work on it.

Corrective Action: Mine management conducted training classes for all employees at the mine regarding lock-out and tag-out policies and procedures. All electrical contractors will be trained in the future regarding proper lock-out and tag-out and “bottom feed” circuit breakers. The main electrical circuit breaker was replaced with a “top feed” circuit breaker. Management verified that Snyder did not have any additional “bottom feed” circuit breakers at Snyder.

CONCLUSION

The accident occurred because contractor management procedures failed to ensure that the electrical circuit breaker was de-energized prior to performing work on it.

ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS

Issued to Martin Marietta Materials

ORDER No. 6576706 was issued October 10, 2010, under the provisions of Section 103(j) of the Mine Act:

    An accident occurred at this location on October 10, 2010, at 12:55 p.m. This order is being issued to prevent the destruction of any evidence which would assist in the investigation of the cause or causes of the accident. It prohibits all activity at the MCC for the crusher plant and the pole-mounted transformer providing power to the MCC, except to the extent necessary to prevent or eliminate an imminent danger, until MSHA has determined that it is safe to resume normal mining operations in this area. This order was issued verbally to the mine operator at 2:06 p.m. on October 10, 2010, and is now been reduced to writing.

This order was modified to a 103(k) order when investigators arrived at the mine. It was terminated on October 25, 2010, after conditions that contributed to the accident no longer existed.

CITATION No. 6576715 was issued October 21, 2010, under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for a violation of 30 CFR 56.12017:

    An accident occurred at this operation on October 10, 2010, when three contractor employees worked on an energized 480-volt electrical circuit. All three employees were hospitalized and one died on October 12, 2010.

This citation was terminated on October 25, 2010, after all persons at this mine were retrained on lock-out and tag-out and de-energizing electrical circuits prior to performing work on them.

Issued to Hertzler Electrical Services

CITATION No. 6576716 was issued October 21, 2010, under the provisions of Section 104(d)(1) of the Mine Act for a violation of 30 CFR 56.12017:

    An accident occurred at this operation on October 10, 2010, when three contractor employees worked on an energized 480-volt electrical circuit. All three employees were hospitalized and one died on October 12, 2010. Contractor management engaged in aggravated conduct constituting more than ordinary negligence in that one of the employees was a supervisor and he did not ensure that the electrical circuit was de-energized before working on it. This violation is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory standard.

This citation was terminated on October 25, 2010, after all persons at this contractor were retrained on lock-out and tag-out and de-energizing electrical circuits prior to performing work on them.

Massey Energy Receives More Citataions for Electrical Violations in Mine

Massey Energy Co.’s Upper Big Branch mine, where 29 miners were killed last month, has received nearly two dozen citations from federal inspectors since the accident, many for electrical problems found in the course of their preliminary investigation, according to government data.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration issued 23 citations, including three for “significant and substantial” violations, since May 14, according to the agency’s website. MSHA hasn’t yet released detailed information about the citations, and it is unclear whether any violations could have played a role in the April explosion.

The three more-serious violations involved escapeways and “travelways” at the mine, which need to be well maintained so that miners can safely exit a mine in an emergency or travel to working areas. Several of the other violations were related to high-voltage circuits, cables and other electrical equipment. Federal safety officials said they believe high levels of methane gas contributed to the explosion, but it isn’t yet known how the gas could have built up in the mine or how it could have been ignited.

The most recent citations at the Upper Big Branch mine resulted from a continuing spot inspection initiated a week after the April 5 accident, and were based on inspections at the surface of the mine, according to MSHA’s site.

Federal investigators haven’t been able to re-enter the mine in Montcoal, W.Va., to begin the underground portion of the investigation into the accident because of high levels of carbon monoxide. On Monday, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin said investigators could re-enter the mine on June 2.

The Upper Big Branch mine received more than 500 citations in 2009, according to MSHA. Massey said it corrected safety issues raised by MSHA and that MSHA had said there were no outstanding safety issues prior to the accident.

A Massey spokesman said the company will review the recent citations. “We take violations seriously. Our hazard elimination team will review each and every violation, and corrective actions will be taken as necessary,” he said.

Story Via Wall Street Journal