After a terrifying night trapped below ground, 17 miners in upstate New York were successfully rescued after a nearby crane came to the rescue.
The Cargill Salt Mine is the deepest salt mine in the country at 2,300 feet, the size of nearly two Empire State Buildings. The mine workers were trapped more than 90 stories underground. They had just started the midnight shift and were on their way down, when suddenly the elevator broke down.
The Cargill salt mine, located in rural Lansing, NY, is one of several in upstate New York. It produces millions of tons of road salt each year to help the region endure the long, icy winter. Unfortunately, because the elevator was situated inside an air intake shaft, the men were subject to rushing winds from the 20-degree surface temperatures during the 10 hours of their ordeal.
First, heat pads, blankets, and coffee were lowered to the workers. Meanwhile, rescuers called in a crane from nearby Auburn, which hauled the men to safety a few at a time in a cramped cage.
Syracuse.com reports that Auburn Crane and Rigging owner Steve Bilinski was fast asleep when the emergency call came in at 1:30 a.m. Within minutes he woke his crew, then moved quickly to get the company’s 275-ton, all-terrain crane ready for action. And according to Syracuse.com:
A Tompkins County Sheriff’s deputy arrived and escorted the crane on the 30-mile trip to the Lansing mine with lights and sirens blaring the whole way.
Tompkins officials had been prepared for the crane to take hours to arrive, MacIntosh said.
“We were down there within an hour and 15 minutes. We were set up and working in 45 minutes,” [Bilinski] said.
“Their spirits are tremendous. I’m inspired by them, to be quite honest with you,” said Cargill mine manager Shawn Wilczynski. “The first four that came out of the mine waited until the last two came out.”
A preliminary investigation revealed that the bar that keeps elevator aligned malfunctioned. Officials from the Mine Safety and Health Administration said the mine actually has an impressive safety record. despite the recent mishap.
Crane Mats, Outrigger Pads for Cranes, and the Gear You Need To Do The Job Right
Ultimately, the Cargill salt mine rescue was a complicated but successful rescue operation, all thanks to the fast action of a local crane company. Photos from Auburn Crane and Rigging show that the massive crane had to maneuver around mine elevator machinery. For tight squeezes like this, important rescue work, or just everyday operation, it’s crucial that crane operators have all the essential safety gear they need.
That’s why DICA makes our outrigger pads for cranes out of an engineered thermoplastic material that’s seven times lighter than steel and literally bulletproof. Even so, crane operators ultimately must take care to use this type of equipment correctly. OSHA guidelines say that cranes must be set up on firm, drained and well-graded ground, in combination with supporting materials, like blocking, outrigger pads for cranes, and mats.
Remember, when choosing the right size outrigger crane pads, consider three factors: ground conditions, size of the outrigger foot, and outrigger load of your equipment. Without the right precautions, someone might be rescuing you.