Call for inquiry into mine tragedy

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The Independent Online
Union leaders yesterday called for a public inquiry into an accident at one of Europe's largest opencast mines which left one man dead and several seriously injured. The tragedy happened when a dumper truck collided with a personnel carrier which rolled over, trapping 18 miners inside.

One man died on the way to hospital and another five remain seriously ill with chest and spinal injuries. The Transport and General Workers Union are urging Scottish industry minister Brian Wilson to launch an investigation into the accident, which happened shortly after 7pm on Thursday at Dalquhandy Quarry at Coalburn, in Lanarkshire.

TGWU Scottish Secretary Jim Elsby said they were also calling on Scottish Coal, which owns the Lanarkshire site, to ensure there are union representatives on all its sites "to assist in the whole issue of health and safety at work". He said: "Health and safety legislation in the opencast industry is less stringent than that in deep mining and ... workers are being asked to work around the clock.

"The coal site at Coalburn is under franchise from Scottish Coal to Crouch Mining who, for many years, have been anti-trade union. We have tried on several occasions to gain access to the site but this has always been denied." Mr Elsby said they would approach STUC general secretary Campbell Christie, who is a director with Mining Scotland, the parent company of Scottish Coal, to help the union in lobbying for support. Mr Christie has confirmed he would seek a review of arrangements to consider whether health and safety standards were being properly applied.