Report: Inadequate training caused fatal mining accident

Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2008

ANCHORAGE - Two workers killed in a construction accident at a gold mine last year were not properly trained to use the machine that toppled over and pitched them to the ground, according to a federal report.

The manlift at the Rock Creek Mine in Nome was not positioned on solid, level ground and it was being operated incorrectly because the workers had not been given adequate training, says a report issued Wednesday by the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The accident occurred July 19, 2007, during the construction of the mine's mill building.

Tyler Kahle, 19, of Tomahawk, Wis., and Craig Bagley, 27, of Anchorage - fishing buddies when not working - were descending in a basket with the boom extended when the manlift tipped over.

The two were working for Alaska Mechanical Inc., a contractor building the mine and milling facilities operated by Alaska Gold Co., a NovaGold Resources Inc. subsidiary.

Mine safety administration spokeswoman Amy Louviere said the next step is for the agency's Office of Assessments to determine whether fines are in order and in what amounts. Flagrant violations carry a maximum penalty of $220,000.

Warren Woods, general manager for Alaska Gold, did not immediately return a call for comment.

Kurt Imig, chief financial officer for Alaska Mechanical, said the company had just received the report and couldn't comment more until it was reviewed.

The men survived the initial fall but later were pronounced dead at Norton Sound Regional Hospital. Richard Martin, safety manager for Alaska Gold, notified MSHA of the accident the same day it occurred.

According to the report, Kahle and Bagley were assigned to install roofing bolts to secure a metal roof to the mill building. They were being transported to the ground in a basket and were about 50 feet off the ground when the machine tipped.

"The accident occurred because management policies and procedures were inadequate," the report says. "Management should fully task train all persons before assigning them to operate machinery they are not familiar with."

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