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ALJ Affirms $70,000 Penalty, Personal Charges Against Mine Supervisor

By Ellen Smith

A $70,000 penalty against a mining company, and a $7,000 personal fine against a supervisor has been upheld, where a miner fell through a walkway hole, dropping 28 ft. to his death when the workers were in the final stages of replacing a tail pulley belt at Freeport-McMoran’s Morenci Mine in Greelee, Ariz.

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California Shooting Is a Wakeup Call

The recent triple murder by a disgruntled employee at a California cement plant and quarry is a jarring wakeup call to the mining community that its workplaces are not off limits to workplace violence (WPV).

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Omission Bias Also Applies to Safety

The welder is preparing to grind the weld on a joint he has just made. He reaches for the face shield and discovers that the once clear plastic has become so pitted and abraded that it has a milky character. He recognizes that the defect makes the face shield more of a hazard than a benefit and since it’s such a small job, he proceeds to grind the joint using safety glasses with side shields as his only eye protection. As he begins to grind, the foreman walks by and observes the job and notes that lack of proper protection – but says nothing. He too recognizes that this is just a brief job – no big deal. As he walks away, he hears a scream. He turns and finds the welder with the grinder thrown to the ground holding his right eye.

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Graniterock Plant Achieves Safety Milestone

Sept. 15, 2011, marked 5,000 consecutive accident-free days (no lost-time incidents) for Graniterock’s Quail Hollow Sand Plant. This Santa Cruz County branch is located near Felton, Calif., and is run by a small but dedicated staff, according to the company.

The facility produces high-quality, industrial glass sand, landscaping, utility and construction sands. Glass Sand customers require just-in-time delivery for many products that are key ingredients in production of glass containers and glass fibers.

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What Information Can Be Obtained During Discovery?

In two recent cases on what information can be obtained during discovery, ALJs have taken different directions – one ruling in favor of an operator and one against. In a case involving inspector’s notes, ALJ Gary Melick said that MSHA over-reached in refusing to turn over inspector’s notes, requested by American Coal Co. during discovery.

Read more: What Information Can Be Obtained During Discovery?