Usibelli Coal worker hospitalized after explosion

Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) A Usibelli Coal Mine worker injured in an explosion last week was in satisfactory condition Wednesday at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, a nursing supervisor said.

Ron O'Connor, a welder, was using a hand-held grinding tool to work on a gear case Friday afternoon when an explosion blew him away from the case, said Charlie Boddy, Usibelli vice president of governmental relations.

O'Connor suffered burns and cuts.

Members of the Tri-Valley Volunteer Fire Department in Healy treated O'Connor at the scene and he was transported by helicopter to Fairbanks.

O'Connor initially was admitted to the intensive care unit but has been moved.

Gear cases enable drag lines to swing to right and left at their base. Drag lines are used to strip overburden or excess material off coal seams.

Usibelli and the federal Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration are investigating the accident.

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