|T. C. Harvey prints safety message on the mine wall|
This is more than a story of coal miners. It's a story of a family of coal mining leaders who put safety first. Four generations of Harveys originating in Carbon County, the first being T. C. Harvey, who was the first superintendent of the Columbia Mine in 1923.
He was born in the famous South Western Mining District of Great Britain near Cornwall. His grandson, Joe Harvey, was the superintendent that closed the mine some 44 years later. And now, Joe Harvey's son, Brett Harvey, is the CEO of Consol Coal, one of the world's largest coal mines. He works in Pittsburg, Pa.
Brett Harvey started in Sunnyside at Kaiser Steel and was CEO of Energy West (PacificCorp mines). He has been featured in many coal industry periodicals and in business magazines such as Forbes Magazine.
The senior Harvey, according to long time friend, Jack Pressett, who also has a long history with Columbia Mine, said that Harvey was not only a brilliant mining engineer but an excellent administrator and organizer. "He truly was a leader of men in the coal mining industry and lead the industry in safety issues," says Pressett. "He put into actions his philosophy that a safe mine was a productive mine."
Harvey got his early training in safety at the U. S. Bureau of Mines in Pittsburgh, Pa. At the beginning of his career in the coal mining industry, he served as an inspector in the Bureau of Mines. The many lessons he learned and taught had a definite bearing on the way he operated and directed the activities of the Columbia Coal Mine.
First and foremost was his definition of an accident. He determined that an accident was an incident that occurred that was unforeseen and caused physical or mental harm to an individual or individuals, and in some instances caused property damage. He determined that the incidents that occurred to people was determined by frequency and severity based on hours worked and incidents occurred.
His philosophy at all times was that safety must be first in all endeavors. Harvey's early recognition of the factors of recognizing that the elves of misinterpretation must be understood and placed in proper perceptive.
His overall training program of new employees began with the motto, "Safety first" and the acceptance of the philosophy that one must train people that safety must be the first reaction that a miner performs and it must become a habit like walking across the street. He taught that the way to accomplish all of this was very simple. First safety starts from the top and proceeds to others from the top official. There is never a situation that requires anything to preempt safety. Injuries cost money and lost work to employees. He emphasized that they begin with honest and integrity and follow-up making sure that what is said is what is done. This was done by beginning each day with a safety huddle. This is where the fire boss report was read.
The message of the fire boss was written down first on the giant blackboard, the solid face of coal usually four feet high and written in large print with white chalk for everyone to see. Shorter messages were often written such as oxygen level low, PSI down at pump, scale roof down near face, etc. These messages were backed up by further information on the mine foreman's report at the lamp house then remarks were made on the foreman's report which was made available to the superintendent.
Every month a safety committee including representative from the work force met and discussed safety incentives and ways to improve any safety problems that might prevail.
Harvey's reaction to the challenge of running a highly progressive coal operation resulted in no major catastrophic occurrences and a highly productive operation with a very low frequency of injuries and low severity of accidents.
The safety philosophy was passed down to his grandson Joe who, in 1960, while superintendent of Columbia was honored with a safety award for Bituminous coal. That year six mines throughout the United States were honored for their safety programs.