Failing to follow instructions kills resources employee

November 21, 2023 Richard Szabo

Unsafe practices ended a mine worker’s life, an investigation found.

Authorities recently examined an underground employee’s fatal fall from a mobile work platform.

Alejandro Castaneda tried to help a colleague remove a chiller pipe suspended from the roof at the Meikle mine. During disassembly pressurised water was released, pushing the 49-year-old off the Getman A-64 scissor lift at about 12:35pm local time on 23 January 2023.

“When Pedro Morquecho loosened the Victaulic coupling on the return-side pipe with a hand-held impact wrench, the pipe’s water pressure released forcefully. The rush of water pushed Castaneda off the scissor lift platform to the floor below,” Mine Safety and Health Administration said in his final report.

“At 12:40pm, Mine Emergency Medical Services (EMS) … began cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Castaneda. EMS transported Castaneda to the surface. A MedX AirOne flight crew arrived and took over care of Castaneda. The MedX AirOne flight crew contacted Anne Richter, medical doctor who pronounced Castaneda dead at 1:52pm.”

Inspector Chad Hilde concluded both Castaneda and Morquecho failed to follow the correct steps for hazardous energy isolation of air, water and discharge lines. The victim also did not secure his personal protective equipment to a fixed mount.

“The procedure required miners to identify and isolate all energy sources, turn off and lock the main feed valves, and open relief valves to release stored energy. On the day of the accident, the miners did not follow these steps before removing the pipe,” Hilde said in the report.

“Using a body harness and fall protection [w]as standard personal protective equipment. Castaneda had a fall protection harness on but was not tied off to anything. The investigator determined that this contributed to the accident.”

No mechanical deficiencies or defects were found to have contributed to the accident.

The report made the following recommendations:

  • adequately examine the workplace
  • use fall protection while working where there is a danger of falling
  • check all systems and equipment for stored energy and made safe before starting work.

Enforcement action was taken against the employer Nevada Gold Mines.

Click here to read the full report.

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