DuraLabel's Weekly Safety News

Blog Author Angelique Sanders

Weekly safety news. Stay in touch with regulations from OSHA, NFPA, and other safety codes. Find out about other companies' best and worst practices. We scour the internet to provide you with helpful training resources and the latest safety information.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hecla Fined $318K Over Death Of Miner

Luck Friday Mine
Photo By: Plazak
The Seattle Times reports that: "Hecla Mining Co. has been fined $318,200 by federal regulators for the death of a worker last year in Idaho's Lucky Friday Mine."

The MSHA report describes the accident this way:

On April1 5, 2011, Larry Marek, miner, age 53, was killed while watering down a muck pile in a stope. A rock fall approximately 90 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 30 feet high struck him.

On the day of the accident, Larry Marek, (victim) started his shift at 4:00 p.m., his normal starting time. Dale Stepro, shift boss, assigned Larry Marek and Michael Marek, miner, (victim's brother) to work in the 6150-15 stope. They were both production miners assigned to perform various tasks to advance the stope.

The two miners arrived at the 6150-15 stope around 4:30p.m. to start their work day. They fixed a spray chamber in the ventilation raise to help cool the stope and then watered down the muck in the stopes to cool the work area. At approximately 5:30p.m., Michael Marek finished watering the muck and started rolling up a hose. He could see Larry Marek's cap lamp's light as he rolled up a hose in the west stope.

Michael Marek heard the ground caving in over in the west stope and felt a tremendous rush of air. He stated it occurred very quickly, filling the stope with dust and debris. He found the west stope completely caved in. He ran up the slot access and flagged down Daren Stein, haul truck operator, to report the fall of ground. Michael Marek then ran back to the fall and tried to move rocks by hand while Stein contacted the hoist ramp crew for assistance. At approximately 5:45 p.m., the crew arrived at the stope and began removing the fallen ground.

Rescue crews worked around the clock removing material from the ground failure location, drilling probe holes into the failed area and installing timbered roof support as they advanced into the ground fall area. A rescue drift was also mined in an attempt to reach the accident area from the west side. After an extensive effort, the victim was recovered on April 24, 2011. The cause of death was attributed to blunt force trauma.

The MSHA report provided the following conclusions:

"The accident occurred because management did not have policies and procedures that provided for the safe mining of split stopes in a multi-vein deposit. Management failed to design, install, and maintain a support system to control the ground in places where miners worked and traveled. Additionally, management failed to ensure that appropriate supervisors or other designated persons examined or tested the ground conditions where the fall occurred."

The MSHA investigation report on the death is available here:

Related Past Posts:
Mining Deaths The Second Lowest In A Century
MSHA Cites Corporate Culture As Cause Of Mine Disaster
OSHA Fine Could Close Small Company

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posted by Steve Hudgik
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