Monday, August 07, 2006

The Slow Road To Mine Safety: Simply Amazing, And Simply Intolerable

(Yes, I'm still on vacation, no phone, no cell -- but we have intermittant wireless, so sometimes I can't resist, especially when a newspaper mentions Confined Space. OK, back to vacationing...)

The Louisville Courier Journal thinks its "simply amazing, and simply intolerable" that there seems to be a constant battle to ensure the functioning of some of the most basic safety precautions that keep miners alive -- things like checking to make sure the respirators work.

And while MSHA announces that it will "use a computational fluid dynamics study to build a mathematical model and calculate explosive pressures" in order to "digitally reconstruct this year's Sago Mine explosion in West Virginia,"
in the meantime, it's the simple things that keep killing and injuring miners.

According to the U. S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, Jermey Heckler was the 37th American miner to die this year, when a pressurized tire blew last weekend as he was welding and grinding the rim.

This was no "freak accident," as the publication Confined Space points out. In the past decade, there have been at least four similar fatal incidents.

After one, MSHA faulted the company for not providing proper equipment with which to inflate tires. In another, a supervisor was found guilty of aggravated negligence for telling a miner to cut a slot in a brake drum, which ignited gases in the adjacent tire.

Those seem like simple things to avoid. A 1996 MSHA handbook says mine tires never should be welded, brazed or cut.
Simple things kill.