LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Managers overlooked safety violations that contributed to a worker’s death a year ago in Lander County, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Labor.
A Feb. 14, 2022, incident in the underground Cortez Mine, just off State Route 306 in the north central part of Nevada, killed Marissa Hill, 34, who was in a lube truck that went over a 60-foot ledge inside the mine. Hill had 10 years experience in mines.
Supervisors spotted the overturned truck, but the recovery operation took a day to complete on unsupported ground, and Hill was dead when the truck was pulled out on Feb. 15.
The mine is operated by Nevada Gold Mines, LLC. The company was cited for several violations related to Hill’s death: failure to place a berm in front of an open slope, failure to conduct adequate workplace examinations and failure to maintain a backup camera on the maintenance truck.
Standard procedures of installing physical berms and warning signs weren’t followed, and managers had traveled daily in the area where the vehicle went over the edge. The unsafe conditions existed for about two months. Managers should have corrected the situation, the Mine Safety and Health Administration report indicates.
“Hill had entered the area to service equipment, realized no equipment was in the area, and was in the process of turning around when the accident occurred,” the report said.
“Prior to the accident, mine management decided to stop installing berms near open stopes,” according to the report. “The mine operator engaged in aggravated conduct constituting more than ordinary negligence by being aware of the unsafe condition and not promptly initiating appropriate action to correct it. This violation is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory safety standard.”
The investigation also found that a backup camera on the truck was broken for several years, contributing to the crash.