GMS Mine Repair and Maintenance McElroy Mine team has worked 1,177 days without a lost time accident, and on Thursday the corporation honored that accomplishment with a special luncheon and awards ceremony.
"Eleven hundred and seventy-seven days, that's unheard of in this industry," GMS President Courtland Helbig told employees Thursday. "They're good numbers; they're excellent numbers. You guys make GMS look good."
Helbig said the GMS employees working at McElroy Mine serve as examples of how to do the job right.
GMS Mine Repair and Maintenance employs about 940 people in 30-40 coal mines across the country. At McElroy, miners jackhammer through 2 1/2- 4 feet of rock, extract the coal and load it onto a belt. GMS installs special steel frames to protect those miners and their machinery and to keep the mine's roof from caving in.
"We consistently have a ... lower incident rate across the company than our competitors," said Safety Director Susan Bealco.
Several factors were credited for this lack of incidents. First, Bealco said, employees spend a lot of time on safety education and training.
In fact, new hires undergo hands-on training before they go underground. Four times each year, employees also have to attend "safety standdowns," which emphasize safety education and teamwork. And teamwork is key, with older and more experienced workers taking the initiative to teach newer workers.