August 17, 2011
Stone, sand, and gravel producers — representing the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) largest jurisdictional sector — welcomed Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph Main on tours of both surface and underground aggregates facilities Aug. 16 to showcase the aggregates industry’s demonstrated commitment to workplace safety and the safety distinctions between aggregates and other MSHA-regulated mining. For each of the past 10 years, the industry’s injury incidence rate has dropped to a record low level of just 2.33 incidents per 200,000 hours worked, according to the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA).
Main first toured Fred Weber, Inc.’s Bluff City Minerals, an underground aggregates facility in Alton, Ill. There, he noted first-hand the absence of flammable gases, the multiple, wide portals for entry and exit and the solid rock formations that so starkly distinguish aggregates from other MSHA-regulated sectors. Doug Weible, president of Fred Weber, Inc., commented, “We’re pleased to show Mr. Main that underground aggregates is a very safe business. Our commitment to safety is just one reason why it has been almost 15 years since there’s been a multiple fatality incident in aggregates. This commitment to safety is demonstrated by our track record.”
Main then toured the sun-drenched Casper Stolle Quarry & Contracting Co., a surface facility in Dupo, Ill. There, he heard workers emphasize their interest in thorough training of MSHA inspectors so that they evaluate conditions with a focus on genuine risk versus mere compliance.
“I was pleased to get the chance to repeat to Mr. Main our urging that MSHA continue to work on inspector training so that enforcement is done properly,” Anne Cramer, vice president of Casper Stolle, commented in a press release from NSSGA. “Only in that way can we attain consistent compliance, which is critical for operators to have the best opportunity to manage for safety and health.”
Both companies are headed by CEOs who have signed the NSSGA Safety Pledge, which commits the company to helping the industry reduce injuries by 10 percent in each of the next five years. More than 90 percent of all NSSGA workers are employed by a CEO who has signed the Safety Pledge.
Louis Griesemer of Springfield Underground, Inc., Springfield, Mo., and NSSGA’s co-chair of the industry’s MSHA alliance, said, “We are pleased to highlight the continuing positive trends toward greater safety in stone, sand and gravel. While our goal is zero injuries, we know we’re headed in the right direction. We believe that, as the largest mining sector regulated by MSHA, aggregates should be regulated and enforced against according to our risk profile, versus the risk profiles of other sectors.”