VERONA, Ky. - Sterling Materials, operator of the Verona limestone mine where a woman was killed Tuesday , has a mixed safety record.
Records show a cave-in accident and a death in the late 1990s, followed by a major safety award from the US government in 2006, then a series of smaller accidents in recent years.
A collapse in 1998 trapped two workers 550 feet into the mine shaft. The men were inspecting a newly-excavated shaft when a slab of limestone fell on top of them. Both men survived serious injuries.
That accident occurred less than six months after the mine opened.
A year later, a 22-year-old worker died at the mine after his clothes got tangled up in a conveyor belt tail pulley. The company was cited because the pulley was unguarded, but the citation was lifted when a guard was installed.
The I-Team investigated Sterling Materials in 2004 after Verona residents complained that the mine's blasting had destroyed their property values, and polluted the air with Quartz dust.
In 2005, the Verona mine operated for more than 92,000 man hours without a "lost time" accident. That earned Sterling the top " Sentinels of Safety " award the following year from the US Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration.
That federal agency reports three injury accidents since the award.
In 2009, a worker failed to wear a safety harness and he slipped. In 2010, a grinding wheel exploded and the pieces cut a worker in the thigh. In 2011, a rock fell and cut a worker's hand.
Tuesday's deadly accident at the mine is currently under investigation by safety agencies.
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