A Continental Cement official says the company has already addressed all the safety-related citations it received from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
“They come in and do unannounced inspections routinely and in this case they did an inspection and cited some things that we immediately rectified,” said Scot Conroy, company vice president. “Safety is a top priority of Continental Cement and we’ll continue to work to make our work place a safe one.”
MSHA, which Conroy described as the mining and cement industry’s regulatory equivalent to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, issued 30 safety-related citations and two orders to the Hannibal plant. The citations and orders resulted from a special impact inspection that was conducted in January.
According to the MSHA, January’s visit was the first impact inspection at the Ralls County mine. Impact inspections are different from regular inspections, which normally occur four times a year at underground mines and twice a year at surface mines. The impact inspection initiative began shortly after the Upper Big Branch explosion in April 2010, to specifically address mines with a history of compliance problems.
Of Continental Cement’s 30 citations, 13 were classified as “significant and substantial” violations that have the potential of causing “serious injury or illness.”
“Each one that came up we take very seriously. They were all immediately rectified. It didn’t take a long time to rectify any of them,” said Conroy. “We’ll continue to do everything we can and need to to make our plant a safe one.”
According to information provided by MSHA, hazardous conditions cited during the inspection included four citations for not providing safe access to the old primary crusher building, new primary crusher, a belt conveyor and the magnet building. This condition had been cited four times in the previous two years.
Three citations were issued for not repairing in a timely manner safety defects found on a cement dust collector, accumulation of cement impeding travel out of the second floor motor control center (MCC) room, and accumulation of cement on the outside of lights making them ineffective.
Three citations were issued for not guarding moving machine parts on the conveyor belt return roller, on the conveyor belt counterweight cleaning pulley and on two clinker belt head pulleys, exposing miners to moving machine hazards. This standard had been cited 10 times in the previous two years at this mine, according to the MSHA.
Two citations were issued for travel ways at a clinker silo. Another area did not have toe boards and handrails, creating slip and fall hazards for miners working in there. Two citations were issued for not providing railings, barriers, or warning signs to protect miners from falls working around openings in travel ways on two platforms. Two citations were issued for not providing adequate electrical circuit overload protection at two finish elevator motors. Two citations were issued for not protecting power cables on the miller welder and an extension cord at the old primary crusher MCC room. Both cables had damaged power conductors. A pair of citations were issued for two miners who are exposed to noise levels exceeding permissible noise levels during an eight-hour sample at the raw mill.
Page 2 of 2 - Other citations issued during this inspection consisted of not providing sufficient illumination, an unguarded conveyor not being provided with an emergency stop cord, a one-half ton come-a-long used beyond its design capacity, safety belts and lines not being worn where there is a danger of falling, and an accumulation of dust on the bottom floor of the mill building.
The orders cited by inspectors were training orders of withdrawal issued to two employees of independent contractor Fastenal for violations of newly-hired experienced miner training and new miner training.
According to Amy Louviere, a spokesperson for the Office of Public Affairs with the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C., Continental Cement was “expected to abate all the conditions that resulted in a health or safety violation within a reasonable time frame.”
“Even when a violation is abated (fixed), that doesn’t preclude a monetary penalty for each violation. Fines are assessed at a later date,” wrote Louviere, in an e-mail to the Courier-Post.
Regarding possible fines, Conroy said the company has the “opportunity to contest the ones we don’t agree with. We’ll review those and then proceed accordingly.”
According to the MSHA, Continental Cement’s local operation employs approximately 200 “miners.” Conroy explains that everyone who works on site is considered a miner by MSHA.