A sand mining operation near Saint Jo recently celebrated a safety milestone.
Texas Frac in December marked two years without a lost time accident, according to a press release from the operation’s parent organization, FLASH Family of Companies. The production facility in the Antlers Formation includes a mining operation to access the beach sand deposits ranging from just under the soil to depths of more than 50 feet. The sand is relatively clean, round and fine, making it ideal for fracking oil wells in addition to other industrial sand applications. Once the material is mined, the plant washes, dries and screens it to customer specifications.
In the past, mining was one of the most dangerous industries in the United States. The danger was predominantly in underground mines in the country, but surface mines like Texas Frac also contributed to mine fatalities and accidents, according to the release.
In 1977, the federal government passed the Mine Act, creating a subsection of the Department of Labor responsible for the safety and health of people involved with mining. In 1978, Mine Safety and Health Administration was established, and any company involved with mining was required to register.
MSHA is much like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, except MSHA is required to physically inspect surface mines twice a year. Texas Frac stated in the release that it welcomes the visits, as employees put a lot of effort and pride into maintaining a safe operation. Thanks to the work MSHA has done, the fatality and accident rate in the mining industry has fallen significantly since MSHA was created.
Texas Frac hired a former MSHA inspector as its environmental health and safety manager responsible for keeping the site and all personnel compliant with MSHA regulations. The plant completes daily safety inspections before each shift, equipment safety exams, monthly safety meetings, site safety inspections, annual retraining, and of course, the MSHA visits twice per year, according to the release. “All safety programs depend on the commitment and the culture of the workforce,” Director of Mining Keith Stultz said in the release. “We are fortunate to have a great group of employees who view safety as an integral part of their job. It is not a barrier to their jobs but a part of it. We stress this from the time a new employee walks in the door and reinforce it throughout their career with us. Our success is because of our employees.”
Safety programs in the mining sector measure success by the number of lost time accidents, reportable rate, and significant and substantial occurrences in any 12-month period.
LTAs are defined by the federal government as an injury that prevents an employee from returning to his or her next scheduled shift doing their normal job. That prevents an employer from bringing an injured employee back to work on light duty. There is also a cost associated with accidents and injuries on the job in the form of overtime, medical insurance costs, fines and lost production.
Texas Frac is part of the FLASH Family of Companies, a family-owned asset-based logistics company headquartered in Green Lake, Wisconsin, and established in 1984.