Employees of Twentymile Mine stand in front of the underground operation's new entry portal. This week, executives from Peabody Energy presented Twentymile with the 2012 President's Safety Award.

Shepard King/Craig Daily Press

Employees of Twentymile Mine stand in front of the underground operation's new entry portal. This week, executives from Peabody Energy presented Twentymile with the 2012 President's Safety Award.

Twentymile Mine receives safety award for lowest incident rate in Peabody Energy history

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— Routt County’s Twentymile Mine this week was presented with the President’s Safety Award from St. Louis-based Peabody Energy, which owns the mine, for achieving the company’s best U.S. safety performance rating for an underground coal mining operation in 2012.

Twentymile employees were recognized for achieving a 0.96 incident rate, which also is the lowest for an underground mining operation in Peabody’s 130-year history. It was the third time Twentymile had received the safety award since 2005.

“Peabody’s amazed,” Pat Sollars, vice president and general manager of Peabody’s Colorado operations, said during the award presentation Thursday night. “They’ve never had an underground mine under one (reportable incident per 200,000 man-hours), so you guys have set the standard.”

The incident rate is calculated by averaging the number of reportable incidents per 200,000 man-hours worked. Twentymile employs about 500 miners who log more than one million hours every year.

Twentymile had a rough start to 2012 with more than three accidents reported per 200,000 man-hours between January and April.

Sollars said the crew turned things around and had only one reportable accident throughout the rest of the year.

“These guys really changed their focus from production to safety,” Sollars said. “They really look out for one another, and I couldn’t be more proud of the guys.”

Sollars said this week’s recognition was especially satisfying considering the crew conducted three longwall moves, developed the highest panel gate in mine history, poured 12,000 yards of grout in the tailgate and produced more than eight million tons of coal in 2012.

Peabody Energy U.S. President Kemal Williamson said it was the innovative spirits of mine employees that set them apart from other mines in the company.

“The team has a progressive culture and is known for innovation and results,” Williamson wrote in an email. “A number of new safety tools were introduced this year by employees, and that focus on best practice is what enables continuous improvement.”

Later this month, the Colorado Mining Association will recognize Twentymile employees for five safety innovations.

One of those innovations is a ladder spotter that braces against the roof of the mine tunnel to provide workers with greater stability while using a ladder on uneven surfaces.

“Right now, we’re at 131 days without a reportable incident, but Peabody is about more than daily goals, it’s about core values,” Sollars said. “Our daily goals may change, but our core values do not.

“We’re getting a lot of questions from St. Louis about whether we can realize their vision of zero incidents. I don’t want to think about zero right now; I want to focus on today, but that dream of zero incidents is out there, and this crew can reach it.”

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