Mining is not generally thought to be one of the safer occupations in the United States, yet there are many mines that operate with no lost-time injuries, sometimes for years. Despite the fact that mining is dangerous, these employers and employees, through the use of engineering controls, training and vigilance and personal protective equipment, maintain safety records that would make any company in any industry proud.
A group of these mines have been honored by the Department of Labor with the highest safety award given to the mining industry -- the Sentinels of Safety.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao presented the 75th annual Sentinels of Safety awards during a luncheon yesterday in Washington, D.C.
"These Sentinels of Safety awards recognize outstanding commitment to the safety and well-being of workers," said Chao. "We are continuing to look for new ways to encourage and recognize employers who go the extra mile to protect their employees."
Considered the most prestigious award in the mining industry, the Sentinels of Safety award is given to mining operations that achieve the greatest number of employee work-hours each year without an injury that results in lost workdays.
The Sentinels of Safety competition was created in 1925 at a time when thousands of miners were injured or killed in job-related accidents each year. The award has continued uninterrupted to this day.
Safety winners this year include: Deep Mine #21, Paramount Coal Corp., Dante, Va.; Antelope Coal Mine, Antelope Coal Co., Gillette, Wyo.; SSX Mine, Anglo Gold (Jerritt Canyon) Corp., Elko, Nev.; Cote Blanche Mine, IMC Salt Inc., Franklin, La.; Rochester Mine, Coeur Rocheste Inc., Lovelock, Nev.; Thornton Quarry, Material Service Corp., Thornton, Ill.; Arena Plant, Hanson Aggregates South Central, Altair, Tex.; and Briggs Plant, Fordyce Co., Victoria, Tex.
by Sandy Smith