Friday, November 17, 2006

Mine Safety Miscellany

MSHA is suggesting solar-powered lights for haul road illumination. Details here.

New lighting systems utilizing light-emitting diodes (LEDs) powered by solar cells provide innovative applications for haul road safety lighting. The low power drain of an LED makes solar power more practical than in the past. Installation requires no wiring. The placement of solar-powered LEDs for lighting a busy intersection, sharp curve, foggy area, narrow passage or any place of safety concern, is only limited by the ability of the solar cell to receive ample charge from sunlight.

There's somthing neat about the idea that even coal mines might have a good use for solar power.

Ken Ward of the Charleston Gazette recently was on NPR, talking about mine safety. If there is anyone who hasn't yet heard it,you can listen here.

Not chargeable to the mining industry, tranportation accidents are still of major interest to mining communities. Today, a freight train hit a coal truck in West Virinia, reports WOWK TV. The driver fortunately escaped injury.

The Courier-Journal recently had an editorial:

Publicists for the Bush administration's new director of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, Richard Stickler, press the case that criticism of his controversial appointment is unjustified. They say he should be given a chance to use powerful enforcement tools that the agency hasn't used in the past, which allow for closures at mines that knowingly fail to comply with federal regulations.
Fine. But Mr. Stickler and everybody else entrusted with improving coal safety must remember that dead miners have run out of chances.

A fatal injury from a week back. This, unfortunately, was # 45 for the coal industry this year.

By Kathy Helms
Diné Bureau
KAYENTA — Employees of Peabody Western Coal Co. are mourning the loss of a fellow worker at the Kayenta Mine....

The 52-year-old electrician died around 9 p.m. Sunday after receiving an electrical shock while working to restore power to a dragline, [Peabody spokeswoman Beth] Sutton said.

"We express our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy to the family."

The electrician was believed to be working on a dragline trailing cable, which powers the dragline, when the accident occurred.

..."Traditionally, Kayenta Mine's safety record has been better than the industry average, with employees achieving about one-third the industry incident rate for U.S. surface mines," Sutton said.

Cindy Skryzicki in the Washington Post may have hinted at oversight for MSHA by the new Congress.

One notable change in direction is expected from Rep. George Miller, a California Democrat and the incoming head of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where he has been the ranking minority member for six years.

"It's been clear there has been no oversight; not even mildly aggressive oversight," said Miller, whose panel oversees regulatory policy at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Mine Safety and Health Administration....

Miller said in an interview that he doesn't have a lengthy agenda but that he wants to examine the value of voluntary compliance programs and self-reporting of OSHA violations by employers.

Labor unions are expected to get some of their issues back on the agenda, especially because Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, will head the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.


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