Report Faults Mining Company For Fatal Accident

Jul 20, 2012

A new report faults managers of north Idaho’s Lucky Friday mine for an accident last November that killed a 26-year-old miner. It was one of two fatalities at the mine last year.

On Nov. 17, a miner named Brandon Gray was trying to unclog a bin full of rock debris. The rock suddenly began to flow, and Gray was enveloped, much like a swimmer caught in a whirlpool. He later died at the hospital.

Gray wore a safety harness, but federal investigators determined it didn’t lock up and catch him because it wasn’t designed for the slow-moving rockfall Gray was in. The federal report also says neither Gray nor his partner received prior safety training for the kind of work they were doing.

Investigators blame these failures on managers at Hecla Mining and contractor Cementation, USA. The two companies say new procedures prohibit workers from standing on possibly unstable rock in the same situation.

Hecla CEO Phil Baker says the miners there had never seen an accident like the one that killed Brandon Gray. Cementation President Mike Nadon rejected the federal report, calling it “erroneous.”

The Lucky Friday Mine was cited earlier for poor mining practices after an accident killed an employee named Larry Marek. The silver mine is closed until 2013 for a federally mandated safety overhaul.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network