Kentucky officials going face-to-face for safety

KENTUCKY state mining officials are going into the field as part of an effort to enhance mine safety measures focused on roof falls and rib rolls, the cause of four mining deaths so far this year.
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The seventh coal death in 2009, and first underground fatality, occurred in Kentucky.

Donna Schmidt

Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing director Johnny Greene and safety analysis director Franklin Reed have ordered the agency’s mine safety analysts to visit every mine in the state with the goal of meeting every miner and reinforcing existing safety measures.

Mining operations will be told about all of the fatal accidents recorded to date in 2010 and reminded to watch for potentially hazardous underground conditions. The special meetings have already commenced, the agency said, and should be wrapped up this week.

The latest related death was recorded just last month, when Jim Carmack, 42, was struck by a falling steel beam at the Clover Fork Mine No. 1 in Harlan County.

Travis Brock, 29, was killed at the Abner Branch operation in Leslie County in January, and just a few months later in late April, Justin Travis, 27, and Michael Carter, 28, died in a roof fall at the Dotiki mine in Hopkins County.

“Our focus is on safety and making sure that each Kentucky miner that goes underground pays attention to his or her environment at all times,” Greene said.

“We have had five underground mine fatalities in a row that involved roof falls or rib rolls, including a death late in 2009. Bringing a heightened sense of awareness of the hazards that can be present underground will help bring a stop to these accidents and deaths.”

Reed said that there must be an “elevated awareness” by workers who should have a sense of urgency as they work to prevent future accidents.

“It’s extremely important that miners pay close attention to the roof conditions in their immediate work area at all times,” he said.

“Special attention needs to be given to the mine roof in all outby areas where employees are required to work or travel, as well as the roof on advancing and pillaring sections.

“When adverse roof conditions are encountered, it must be given immediate attention and the appropriate action taken.”

The OMSL has stressed one overall goal from this latest mine safety push: “No more mining deaths in 2010,” Greene said.