Best practices issues after San Juan death

THE US Mine Safety and Health Administration issued a series of best practices to mines following a November 12 conveyor belt incident that resulted in the death of the worker on December 4.
Best practices issues after San Juan death Best practices issues after San Juan death Best practices issues after San Juan death Best practices issues after San Juan death Best practices issues after San Juan death

The scene of the San Juan mine incident. Courtesy MSHA.

Donna Schmidt

Edison "Ed" Hatathli, 50, was working at the San Juan 1 operation last month when the anchored tailpiece for a 72in conveyor running under a feeder breaker broke free and was pulled down, striking him in the back. The six-year mining veteran was taken to a local hospital, where he died three weeks later from his injuries.

It was the first mining-related fatality for the San Juan complex, which is operated by New Mexico Coal, and the first death in the state in more than two years.

In hopes of preventing similar accidents in the future at other US mines, MSHA released a list of best practice procedures. They include:

De-energise, lock out and tag the electrical power on the conveyor belt and take-up prior to setting or adjusting the feeder breaker over the tailpiece;

Release the belt take-up to remove stored energy in the belt when setting the feeder breaker;

Prior to setting the feeder breaker, examine the tailpiece anchors to determine that the anchors are not damaged or corroded; and

Examine tailpiece mounts for damage such as evidence of failing welds or bent mounts.

MSHA has requested any additional suggestions to remedy such situations in the future. Input can be submitted via the agency's website, citing the fatality number and year.

The miner's death was the 30th this year to date, versus 45 at that time last year. Classified as a machinery death by the agency, it is the fourth of the type in 2007.

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