On our weekly project update call at the mine, our meetings begin with a ‘safety share’. It’s usually filled with personal observations, mine traffic pattern changes to be conscientious of, or in this week’s meeting, a good catch by GSI’s Courtney Smith. There is a protocol to alert mine personnel working in the pit of any hazardous conditions, which includes highwall instabilities or severe weather approaching. Early hazard detection is critical at the mine as it is over 2.5 miles wide by almost a 1 mile deep. If warranted, the crews will need ample time to evacuate. With all the systems, risk controls and procedures in place to protect over 300 people working there, an onsite contractor (GSI) picked up on the lightning / weather quickly approaching and evacuated the slope. He then proceeded to advise mine dispatch of the situation, who in turn advised relevant mine crews (such as the drill & blast crew) that need to evacuate in the event of lightning. Courtney and crew should be commended on their proactive effort to let mine personnel know and not assume someone else was watching. The mine recognized this action and we should also take note of this courageous leadership to advise a mine with so many intimidating procedures in place to take action.
Swinging Bridge Anchors, Virginia Department of Transportation