Cornelius Yates, 44, was killed at Maverick Mining’s No. 1 mine in the northern Kentucky town of Pikeville last Tuesday after a rock section 20ft wide collapsed on top of him as he was installing roof bolts.
According to local news reports, the mine had received 114 citations since November 2004 and the mine had received a violation requiring protection against falls from the mine roof, sides and mining area in November of last year.
As a result of the fatality, Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher told Associated Press he wanted to ensure all of the state’s underground operations were utilising the newest technology.
“If there is clear evidence that use of technology can produce a much safer workplace, then we need to encourage that. This accident led me to believe that a review of technology is important to do.”
The Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing told the news service that an investigation was under way and that a lot of other operations use the same kind of hydraulic roof bolter. Additionally, Kentucky Coal Association president Bill Caylor said recently that economic conditions have hindered some operators’ ability to replace equipment.
“We were putting Band-Aids on equipment, and just trying to stay in business. Money was just not available – companies were doing rebuilds...because they just didn’t have the money to go and get new equipment.”
Caylor noted to AP, however, that state and federal inspectors from the Office of Mine Safety and the US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) would not allow continued use of any equipment found that was deemed unsafe for use.
Kentucky was number one in the nation for mining-related fatalities in 2005 with 22. Yates’s death comes just weeks after shuttle car operator David Morris Jr, 29, was killed in H&D Mining’s No. 1 operation December 30.