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Asunto:[LEA-Venezuela] MINERIA SUBTERRANEA¿Cuantos muertos está bien?
Fecha:Martes, 10 de Enero, 2006  14:11:02 (-0400)
Autor:Jorge Hinestroza M. <vitae>

[USMRA] For a Safer Mine, Try More Training   Bandeja de entrada

       Rob McGee   <usmra@...> a minerescue
      Más opciones    8 ene (2 días antes)

For a Safer Mine, Try More Training
New York Times
January 8, 2006

THE explosion that killed 12 miners in West Virginia last week was the worst 
coal mining disaster in the United States in four years. But smaller 
accidents happen all the time. In 2005, 22 workers died at coal mines across 
the country, most of them one at a time.

That total is one of the lowest on record, and a far cry from the case 40 
years ago, when 250 or more coal workers died each year. But is a score of 
deaths the best the industry can do? Is it possible to make a completely 
safe coal mine?

"The answer to your question is yes," said J. Davitt McAteer, a vice 
president of Wheeling Jesuit University and an expert on mine safety. "There 
are mines that have been in operation for 20 or 30 years and have not had 

The critical factors in preventing injuries and deaths, said Mr. McAteer, 
who was a mine safety official in the Clinton administration, are training 
and follow-through. "Mines are like everything else," he said. "You and I 
get lackadaisical about safety conditions in our garage. But we're not going 
to blow ourselves up. In mines it's a big deal."

The safest mines, Mr. McAteer said, are those where management takes 
training seriously and where rules are followed rigorously, to the point 
where workers are threatened with dismissal for ignoring them. "It took 
years to get companies to do this," he said. Some of the better companies 
today were the worst offenders in the past, he said.

But it's not all training, said R. Larry Grayson, chairman of the department 
of mining and nuclear engineering at the University of Missouri at Rolla. 
Technology is available to help monitor conditions that could lead to 

For example, Mr. Grayson said, the last major disaster, explosions at an 
Alabama mine that killed 13 workers in 2001, might have been prevented had 
there been pressure sensors on the ventilation system. Other sensors can 
detect slight ground movements that can precede a roof collapse in a mining 
area. Roof collapses were the cause of nine deaths last year.

Some practices are more dangerous than others. "Room and pillar" mining, in 
which blocks of unmined coal are left to support the rock overhead, can be 
hazardous, particularly when the blocks are removed at the end of the 
process. (Miners refer to the last one as the "suicide pillar.")

Safer is longwall mining, in which operators are protected by roof supports 
that are part of the machine. But safer still would be robotic equipment 
that can be operated remotely. "But automation is decades away," Mr. Grayson 


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