West Elk Mine reports safety achievements

The West Elk Mine outside Somerset has exceeded 2 million hours worked without a lost-time safety incident, according to owner Arch Coal, Inc.

A mine rescue team at the site also was named the Colorado state champion at the National Coal Mine Rescue Competition, while employee Ty Odle took first-place state and national honors in the Biopak 240S breathing apparatus category.

The mine is owned by Arch Coal’s Mountain Coal Co.

The mine surpassed the 2-million-hour safety mark Sept. 24, accomplishing it over 29 months.

“This is the first time in the history of West Elk’s mining operations that we’ve achieved such a landmark,” said Jim Miller, West Elk general manager,  in the release.

He attributes the achievements to the commitment by workers to focusing on prevention as part of a behavior-based safety process.

As previously described by Miller, that’s basically a peer process in which people observe each other at work and determine whether there’s any risk and a safer way to do the job.

The mine rescue competition was held last month in Ohio. Eighty-seven teams and 800 people from 13 states participated.

“Mine safety competitions help our employees hone their skills and gauge how they stack up against others,” Miller said. “Our teams practice year-round to ensure they stay prepared, and we are quite proud of their achievements.”

Arch Coal says its 2012 lost-time safety rate was a third of the national coal industry average.


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