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News >  Idaho

Mine management faulted in employee’s death

From staff reports
The death of a 36-year-old miner at the Sunshine Mine in June was caused by management’s failure to establish safe work practices, a federal accident investigation concluded. Nick Rounds was killed when he and another miner were working on shaft repairs at the underground silver mine near Kellogg. Rounds had attatched his fall-protection harness to the wall of the mine shaft, according to a Mine Safety and Health Administration report released Friday. When the hoist started to move, Rounds was pulled off the platform he was standing on at the top of the hoist. He was crushed between the hoist and the shaft wall. Before the accident, Rounds’ co-worker had asked if he was “all tucked in and ready to go.” Rounds said “yes,” so the co-worker gave the signal for the hoistman to bring them to the surface. The report faulted the Sunshine Mine’s management for failing to identify hazards and ensure safe practices for shaft repair work. Materials stacked on the work deck affected where the miners could tie off their safety harnesses, said investigators, who issued two citations to the Sunshine Mine’s operators. Officials at Sunshine Silver Mines Corp. dispute the federal report’s conclusions. All shaft workers were trained to fasten their safety harness to anchors on the hoist’s conveyance rope before a signal is given to move the hoist, the company’s attorney wrote in a Nov. 11 letter to federal mine safey officials. Those practices were reinforced in safety talks and other training, the letter said. Rounds was a 1996 graduate of Wallace Junior-Senior High School, and an 18-year veteran of the mining industry. The Sunshine Mine is one of the Silver Valley’s historic silver strikes, but hasn’t had commercial production since 2008. Sunshine Silver Mines of Denver bought the 130-year-old mine at a bankruptcy auction four years ago, with eventual plans to start production. About 28 people work at the mine.
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