14-ton rock killed Coleman miner: Report – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – January 9, 2013)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

The Ministry of Labour has three weeks to complete its investigation into the Jan. 29, 2012, death of development miner Stephen Perry at Coleman Mine, and to determine if charges should be laid under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.

A joint investigation by Perry’s union, United Steelworkers Local 6500, and Vale showed the 47-year-old miner died after a 14-ton piece of rock broke from the wall, or face, he was working on at the 4,215-foot level of the main ore body at the mine in Levack.

The investigation, which wrapped up last April but was not released publicly, produced 15 recommendations to avert similar tragedies from occurring. The investigation concluded Perry, who had 16 years’ experience, died while operating a piece of machinery to load explosives into holes in the face when the piece of loose rock broke free from the wall and crushed him.

The president of USW Local 6500, Rick Bertrand, said Perry did everything he was supposed to do while working in the area.

Bertrand hasn’t seen the results of the Labour ministry’s investigation, but said Tuesday he doesn’t expect the ministry will lay charges in Perry’s death. It has one year after a fatality to investigate and decide if it will lay charges.

One of the recommendations from the union and Vale calls for the face of an area being developed to be secured with screen, said Bertrand. The ceiling under which Perry was working was screened, but it appears a large boulder broke away from the top of the face as Perry worked his way up the wall.

It would have been difficult for Perry to see “what was happening” in the area from which the piece of loose rock fell, said Bertrand.

Some of the recommendations from the joint investigation call for using new technology and equipment to identify pieces of loose rock that may break free.

“Before we start prepping the face, bolting the face is something we’re looking at,” said Bertrand.

The recommendations also call for the design and installation of different protections for workers, and standardizing procedures in development mining at all Vale mines and plants.

Procedure at Vale mines doesn’t call for screening the face of areas of mines that are being developed, said Bertrand.

The current practice is to “just scale and make sure the loose and everything is clean.”

For the rest of this article, please go to the Sudbury Star website: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2013/01/08/14-ton-rock-killed-coleman-miner-report