Big Laurel assessed with federal fines

THE US Mine Safety and Health Administration has proposed to fine a Virginia operation more than $US540,000 in penalties related to an August 2009 rib roll fatality.
Big Laurel assessed with federal fines Big Laurel assessed with federal fines Big Laurel assessed with federal fines Big Laurel assessed with federal fines Big Laurel assessed with federal fines

The August 2009 roof fall at Big Laurel mine, courtesy MSHA.

Donna Schmidt

The agency said Tuesday the penalties against Big Laurel Mining totalled $542,400 and stemmed from five contributory violations, two of them flagrant, after an incident that killed electrician and repairman William Parrott, a 33-year mining veteran.

The worker was preparing to set timbers August 20, 2009, in the No. 4 entry under the brow of the right rib when a rib section fell and crushed him.

The rock broke into two pieces, the first measuring about 26 feet long, 2.5in wide and 5ft high and the second measuring more than 17ft long, 2ft wide and 3ft high.

“One day earlier, a hazardous condition noting excessive (wide) entry width in the No. 4 entry had been logged in the pre-shift book, but the operator failed to correct the condition and made no notations in the evening on-shift and pre-shift reports,” MSHA added.

Federal officials found that a combination of factors played a role in the fatality, the first being that the operator did not utilize a sightline or other directional control to maintain the projected direction of mining progress.

Additionally, MSHA found that Big Laurel failed to follow the mine’s approved roof control plan and also failed to perform adequate pre-shift and on-shift examinations.

Finally, investigators said the operator failed to adequately support the mine’s rib. The sightline issue and failure to adhere to the approved RCP each are considered by the agency to be flagrant violations and carry fines of up to $220,000 each.

“The importance of pre-shift and on-shift examinations can never be overstated,” assistant secretary for mine safety and health Joseph Main said.

“Had the adverse conditions been detected and logged into the exam books properly, and had management overseen the detection and correction of those hazardous conditions, this tragedy could have been avoided.”

Big Laurel, owned by Cumberland Resources, employs 58 underground and three surface miners. It uses both room and pillar and retreat mining.

The last federal inspection of the operation prior to the fatality had been completed June 29, 2009.

Mine. No. 2’s non-fatal days lost injury incidence rate in 2008 was 4.76, versus the national NFDL rate of 4.41.

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