Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Weekly Toll: Death in the American Workplace

Complacency Cited In Fatal Highwall Collapse at Texas Mine

Jan. 12, A supervisor knew about the hazard but failed to make sure it was corrected before unstable material came down on shovel operator Thomas E. Farmer, according to the federal agency. Some 42 tons of sand poured down beside the shovel. It pinned Farmer against the shovel track in a standing position, neck-deep. Miners dug with hands, hard hats and hand shovels while giving artificial ventilation and watching out for more slides. Use of a bulldozer was thought too likely to cause another slide. Emergency medical services, arriving at 5:48 a.m., found Farmer beyond help. Farmer was recovered and pronounced dead at the scene at 6:43 a.m. Death was attributed to crushing injuries and asphyxia.

Temporary Gap in Floor Fatal to Contract Worker, MSHA Finds

Greenly County, AZ - An unguarded floor opening used for lowering tools and equipment caused the death of Ramon A. Saldana, who fell 28 feet this September 1 at the Freeport-McMoRan Morenci surface copper mine in Greenlee County, Ariz., MSHA has determined. The witness shouted for help. His co-workers called the company dispatcher. Emergency medical services responded. Saldana was pronounced dead at 11:49 a.m. Death was attributed to blunt force trauma. Saldana, 67, had worked in mines for 46 years, 43 years at this mine and the remaining 3 as a consultant with the independent contractor, the MSHA investigator reported.

Mud, Broken Hinge Factored In Mechanic's Death Under Bulldozer

Mar. 12, Fayette County, WV - Contract mechanic John G. Workman died when a compartment cover that had a broken hinge came down on him as he worked under a bulldozer, investigators with MSHA and the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training have reported. Additional support, investigators concluded, could have kept the massive cover immobile and prevented the accident last March 12 at the Appalachian Fuels, LLC, Alloy Preparation Plant #1 in Fayette County, W.Va. Workman, 47, had about 20 years of mining experience, according to investigators.

Site of Fall From Railcar at General Chemical Had High Injury Rate

Nov. 12, Sweetwater County, WY - A material handler sustained serious injuries in
falling between two railcars on November 12 at the General Chemical Soda Ash Partners' General Chemical Mill in Sweetwater County, Wyo., MSHA and company reports indicated. Preliminary information from MSHA was that Robert Loader, 59, was engaged in loading bulk railcars. According to the company, he was walking on top of one of the cars near the scale when he fell. Loader reportedly had more than 30 years of mining experience, all at the same operation, and had worked in his current job for about 2 years.

Contractor Dies From Carbon Monoxide

Dec. 7, Leslie County KY - Independent contractor Paul Shepherd, 42, died of carbon monoxide poisoning at the ICG Hazard, LLC, Thunder Ridge surface mine in Leslie County, Ky., on December 7, MSHA has reported. The owner of J&P Equipment Cleaning, Shepherd reportedly was cleaning mine machinery during a non-production shift on a Sunday. On-site were a total of six contract workers, a preliminary report indicated.

Injured Saskatoon construction worker requires spinal surgery

Dec. 12, Phoenix, AZ - On Wednesday, just after 4 p.m., Falcon was bending over to pick up some tools at the Broadway Avenue construction site of a luxury condominium complex when 23-year-old Andrew Smith fell from scaffolding. Even though Falcon broke Smith’s fall, the younger man died at the scene. Falcon turned 35 on Thursday.

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Sept. 17, Marion, IL - James M. Adams, 56 died on Sept 17 after fighting a fire on the surface area of the Mach Mining LLC coal mine. He was an independent contractor working for K.D. Crain & Sons.

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Oct. 11, Giradeau County, MO - Thomas Eftink, 67, died at the Lone Star Quarry and Mill in Cap Girardeau County, Missouri on Oct 11. MSHNews reports that "he was a self-employed farmer and a member of the National Guard. Survivors include is wife of 45 years, four children and 14 grandchildren and step-grandchildren."

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Oct. 9, Eureka County, NV - Ronald Keen, 56, was killed on Oct 9 at the Newmont Mining surface gold mine in Eureka County, Nevada. An Elko Daily News report says he is survived by his wife as well as two sons from a previous marriage.

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Oct. 1, Montgomery County, Texas - Martimiano Torres, 37 died on Oct 1 at Hallett Materials Hueni Plant (dredging operation) in Montgomery County, Texas. At about 5:40 am, his pickup truck went over or through a berm on the mine property and he went into a 35-foot pond. A story in the Houston Chronicle said he was coming off the night shift. MSHNews reports "Torres' family became concerned when he did not return home and contacted the mine, leading to a 3-hour search in the 35-foot deep pond."

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