A settlement was recently reached between the United States Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and New York-based North American Quarry and Construction Services, LLC, regarding non-compliance claims, following the November 2012 death of a thirty-year-old driller employee at the Mt Marion Pit and Mill. North American Quarry agreed to pay $360,000 in penalties and accept three flagrant violations and one “high” negligence violation, in addition to $6,000 in penalties assessed to the contractor’s foreman. This settlement came on the eve of the trial between the contractor and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration.
Mt. Marion Pit and Mill is owned and operated by Northeast Solite Corporation. At the time of the accident, North American Quarry was a subsidiary of the Austin Powder Company.
On Nov. 1, 2012, a thirty-year-old driller, contracted by North American Quarry and Construction Services, LLC, attempted to manually load a threaded drill steel into the mast of a drilling machine at the pit when he became entangled in the rotating drill steel and suffered fatal injuries.
MSHA determined that the following infractions existed that included flagrant violations:
· North American Quarry intentionally removed an emergency-stop switch from the drill prior to the accident
· North American Quarry assigned the driller to work alone – amid hazardous conditions – and without adequate contact or communication with others. He was the only North American Quarry employee working at the mine when the incident occurred
· Inadequate training on how to load the steel, on behalf of the contractor’s foreman
OSHA representative, Patricia W. Silvey, said, “The Mine Safety and Health Administration believes that this settlement promotes our mission to provide the nation’s miners with a safe and healthful work environment.”
Mining and drilling accidents are often avoidable occurrences.in the case of flagrant violations, a company willfully and knowingly engage in unsafe practices that can injure or kill workers. In such cases the company is guilty of not providing a safe environment and is usual subject to the harshest of penalties.
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