Blog Post #664 – Potash Miners Trapped

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

Twenty-nine miners were rescued after being trapped by a blaze on the ground at a mine in Saskatchewan.

The fire ignited around 2 AM on September 25, 2012 about a kilometre underground on the Potash Corp. my near Regina. The miners took refuge in airtight safety bunkers until around 8 AM when the first nine were brought up, but it took another 12 hours for the remaining 20 men to be brought to the surface, reports Bill Johnson, a spokesperson for Potash Corp. there were no reported injuries.

“The fire started on a large wooden spool of cable. The wooden spool was probably burning and smoking more than the cable itself, but exactly what the cause were – we’re still looking into that,” Johnson says.

The Rocanville, Saskatchewan mine, which produces about 20% of the world’s fertilizer, comprises a series of underground tunnels that stretch hundreds of kilometres with about 15 safety refuge stations at various checkpoints throughout the underground web.

The second group of 20 miners camped out across three such stations, which are equipped for these types of situations and are stocked with canned food, water and communication devices.

After the workers were trapped for almost 20 hours, minor Dana Downey told the media that the mine rescue team “was on top of things and they did their job and they did it well.” Downey adds that the biggest danger to the trapped miners was smoke inhalation.

Is the mind diligently conducts drill training to reinforce safety actions in case of fire, Johnson says the workers reacted as though it was second nature.

“Any time you run a mining operation, safety is your first and foremost concern. We do a large number of drill situations to prepare ourselves for exactly this type of scenario,” he adds. “You never want to find yourself in it, but you want to be prepared should it ever happened.”

The Saskatchewan Government’s Occupational Health & Safety division applauded the actions of both the miners in the company.

“An investigation into the cause of the fire continues,” Johnson says.

My opinion

I write so often about the negative side of safety, that it is a great joy to be able to pass on positive information dealing with concerns across Canada.

Here we find in Saskatchewan a company that not only embraces safety as a culture it also practices what it preaches. These refuge bunkers are valued safety devices and it was heartening to know that the employees knew where they were and how to use them.
Not often do you ever hear about 25 miners in an accident trapped by a blaze and there were no injuries.

Well done, Potash Corporation AND the government of Saskatchewan!

Well done!

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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