Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Rodney Brown
Phone: (703) 235-1452
Thursday, February 5, 1998Company Also To Be Penalized in 97 Nevada Fatality
Thyssen Schachtbau GMBH Fined in Fatal Virginia Coal Mining Accident
The Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration has levied a $300,000 civil penalty against Thyssen Schachtbau GMBH for multiple violations of federal mine safety regulations that lead to the death of a worker at aVirginia coal mine. A shuttle car operator was injured and later died after large portions of the mine roof collapsed. Thyssen Schachtbau GMBH, headquartered in Muelheim Nordrhein, Germany, and owner of the Mine #4 in Dewey (Wise County), Va., was assessed the penalty--the highest levied by MSHA for a mining accident in more than two years--for seven violations of mine safety regulations.
"Violations of regulations designed to protect miners from accidental injury and death will not be tolerated," said Davitt McAteer, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "When violations of basic mine safety rules lead to serious injury or death, those responsible can expect to experience the full extent of our enforcement authority."
The accident occurred Dec. 9, 1996, when sections of a mine roof measuring 4 x 4 feet and 4 x 12 feet with a thickness of three to six inches, fell during pillar mining operations. A remote-controlled continous mining machine was mining the left side of the number four pillar, and coal was loaded and transported in a shuttle car to the section dumping point. A canopy was not required on the shuttle car since the mining height averaged less than 42 inches, even though the height was 50 inches in this particular area. Mining continued until two sections of mine roof fell, striking the shuttle car operator, Kimberly M. Edwards, 50, who was hospitalized with severe injuries. Edwards died six months later as a result of the injuries.
MSHA accident investigators determined that the operator of Mine #4 violated seven mining regulations. MSHA cited Thyssen Schachtbau GMBH through its subsidiary, Parts Corporation of America, the local group which operates Mine #4, for the following violations of federal mining regulations:
--failure of the mining company to correct known hazardous conditions in an active pillar mining section;
--allowing the shuttle car operator to travel in an area with no permanent roof supports;
--failure to follow the approved roof control plan for this mine;
--failure to follow the approved pillar plan;
--failure to train the employees working in this section of the mine in the requirements of the roof control plan;
--allowing other workers to walk or travel in areas with no permanent roof supports; and
--carrying out an improper mining method that exposed workers to increased hazards.
Thyssen Schachtbau GMBH also faces more civil penalties for an unrelated fatal mining accident that occurred on May 26, 1997 in Golconda (Humboldt County), Nev. In that accident, an employee of Thyssen Mining Construction of Canada, also a subsidiary of Thyssen Schachtbau GMBH, was fatally injured when he was struck by a falling shaft-sinking bucket at the Turquoise Ridge Mine. The construction company was employed as a contractor for Getchel Gold Corp. and was given the task of sinking a shaft for the newly developing mine.
The company could be fined up to $450,000 for the nine violations of mining regulations found during that accident investigation.
"It's troubling that two deaths would occur at operations run by the same company in such a short period of time," McAteer said.
In assessing civil penalties, the law requires MSHA to consider, among other factors, the degree of negligence on the part of the operator, the history of previous violations, and the effect of the penalty on the operator's ability to continue in business.
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