CARLIN, Nev. (July 23, 2012)—Purcell Tire & Rubber Co. said it will contest citations from the Mine Safety & Health Administration over the Oct. 28, 2011 death of a mining tire technician at the Newmont USA Ltd. gold mine in Carlin.
Purcell Tire is the mining tire contractor for Newmont at the Carlin mine. Joe M. Ashdown, a 21-year-old Purcell employee, was repairing a Bridgestone VRDP 46/90R57 off-road tire from the inside when he was overcome by fumes from trichloroethylene glue.
Ashdown was not wearing a respirator when he was working on the tire, as he should have done, the MSHA said in its report on Ashdown's death. Because of the massive size of the tire, his colleagues did not immediately see him lying unconscious inside it. Ashdown was pronounced dead about an hour after he was discovered, MSHA said.
The agency determined that Ashdown, who had had only 39 weeks and four days with Purcell Tire, had been inadequately trained to deal with this situation.
“The accident occurred due to mine and contract management's failure to provide adequate procedures and controls to protect persons working with toxic chemicals,” it said.
“Management failed to install proper engineering controls to control chemical vapors in the work area, provide appropriate respiratory protection, and conduct surveys verifying the adequacy of controls,” MSHA said. “Ashdown did not receive instruction in the safety and health aspects and safe work procedures of the task of repairing tires using trichloroethylene glue.”
Robert Purcell, CEO and chairman of Purcell Tire, said in a public statement that Ashdown was “a valued member of the Purcell family.” However, he said the company strongly disputes the conclusions MSHA reached in its investigation.
“Over its 76-year history, Purcell has had an outstanding safety record, and Purcell takes very seriously the responsibility to protect the safety and health of its employees,” Purcell said. The company will request a hearing before an administrative law judge, he said.
MSHA will assess penalties against Purcell and Newmont in the coming weeks, according to an agency spokeswoman. The largest penalty for a flagrant safety violation at MSHA is $220,000, she said.