September 11, 2023 - Usibelli Coal Mine Sept. 7 celebrated 1,000 consecutive days without a lost time accident. The fact that this milestone is not a record for Alaska's longest operating mine is a testament to Usibelli's unwavering commitment to the safety and well-being of the more than 100 workers.
"We are proud to celebrate 1,000 days without a lost time accident," said Usibelli Coal Mine President Joe Usibelli Jr. "This achievement reflects our commitment to safety as a core value and the foundation of our company culture. Every team member is accountable for their safety and the safety of their fellow coal miners."
As an industry that uses explosives, heavy equipment, and industrial crushing and sorting, as well as transporting equipment across a natural-to-industrial landscape wrought with various hazards, mining is an inherently dangerous business. Minus-40-degree temperatures that are an annual occurrence, along with the snow and ice that come with Interior Alaska's dark winters, add to the hazards the Usibelli Coal Mine workers must be aware of.
Despite its inherent dangers, and in many ways because of them, mining is one of the safest industries to work in the United States. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of job-related injuries and illnesses in America's mining industry during 2021 was 1.3 per 100 workers, which is half the 2.6 per 100 across all sectors for the same year.
The reason it is statistically safer to work in a mine than an office in the U.S. is due to the mining sector's prioritization of safety and the programs that have been developed to recognize and mitigate hazards in the workplace.
Toward its own pursuit of safety excellence, Usibelli is one of 11 operations in the U.S. to have received CORESafety certification from the National Mining Association in 2020.
By implementing CORESafety, alongside the coal mine's own "Everyday Safety – At Work. At Home. At Play." campaign, employees are empowered to be safety leaders, fostering a collaborative approach to identifying and mitigating potential hazards.
"I also want to thank the families of our employees who support and encourage a commitment to Everyday Safety and for supporting their loved ones to maintain a safety-first mindset," said Joe, Jr.
In addition to achieving this safety milestone, Usibelli Coal Mine remains dedicated to being stewards of the environment by using sustainable mining practices. The mine continues to invest in advanced technologies and best practices to ensure its operations align with the highest environmental standards.
"Beyond our commitment to safety, we also recognize our responsibility to the environment and the communities we serve," the Usibelli president added. "We strive to leave a positive legacy for future generations."
With the autumn foliage signaling the coming of the third winter since the last time there was a lost time injury at Usibelli, the roughly 100 workers at the Interior Alaska mine are looking forward to a new all-time safety record in December.