April 11, 2012
MADISONVILLE, KY – The Kentucky Coal Academy (KCA) held their 2nd annual Pre-Shift Competition today at the Mine Emergency Response Academy (MERA) in Madisonville.
The purpose of the competition is to test miners' proficiency in inspecting mine conditions between shift changes and identifying any issues that need to be resolved so that incoming workers can be assured of a safe working environment. By law, pre-shift examinations must be made to ensure the safety of the working environment.
In a field adjacent to the academy, judges built a 70 by 120 foot course with rope boundaries, representing a working section of an underground mine shaft. White cards and colored ribbons scattered throughout the course symbolized some common hazards encountered by miners to test their skills in identifying and solving potentially dangerous situations.
Mine Rescue Director for Madisonville Community College, Danny Knott, describes the course: “We have unsafe/unsupported roof, water that’s knee-deep or higher – we have a lot of different hazards in the mine that they have to find and correct if they can safely do so. If they can’t get them corrected, they have to record them in a book so the next person coming on shift will know where they are and correct them. Every mine in the nation has to have these pre-shift examiners go in before the miners to make sure the mine is safe. This is to hone the skills of each ‘pre-shifter’ that goes in the mine and does work.”
In total, 11 pre-shift examiners from many area mines were competing, including Elk Creek, Warrior, Dotiki, River View, Alliance, and Patiki, to name a few. Judges for the competition included state and federal mine inspectors led by head judge, Jeff Clark.
The first and second-place in-state winners were Chad Greenlee (Warrior) and Jason Stewart (Elk Creek), respectively. The award for first-place out-of-state winner went to Adam Sexton (Patiki). An informal, unofficial award went to Rodney “Rhino” Dilbeck, who competed against two of his family members for bragging rights.