MSHA Assistant Secretary Joseph Main, Deputy Assistant Secretary Laura McClintock and Metal and Nonmetal Administrator Neal Merrifield met on November 20, 2015, with representatives of Lehigh Cement Company at the company’s Union Bridge, MD, portland cement plant, a 2.2 million ton per year facility that employs nearly 180 miners. Plant Manager Kent Martin, Safety Manager Andy Rigler and United Steel Workers Miners’ Representative Steve Keeney provided an overview of the plant’s safety accomplishments over the past several years and credited a strong union-management team approach that enabled them to forge 831 days of lost workday-free work, and a much-reduced MSHA violation record.

Lehigh cites as its biggest production challenge the depletion of stone resources in its current quarry, the opening of a new quarry in New Windsor with over 80 years of stone reserves, and transportation logistics of the nearly 12,000 tons of stone that must be delivered each day to the plant in Union Bridge, over 4.5 miles away. After considering over-the-road trucking, rail transportation and overland conveyor options, Lehigh decided that the best choice for both the community and the company was to construct a 4.7-mile belt conveyor system, which is now under construction by Pittsburgh general contractor J.B. Fay. The conveyor will be situated primarily at-grade, but will include underground sections through an agricultural preservation area and under several public roadways. Only a small percentage of the conveyor will be elevated. As part of his visit, Assistant Secretary Main viewed the underground conveyor cut-and-cover conveyor tunnel construction work and discussed progress with J.B. Fay supervisors Scott Wilson, Ed Chaney and Hugh Hynes. Mr. Main also observed and discussed plant operations in the main control room and 480-feet high preheater tower with USW Local 8-00031 President John Keyser.

Assistant Secretary Joseph Main concluded his visit recognizing everyone for their outstanding safety record and remembering miners who have lost their lives throughout our nation’s history. Neal Merrifield congratulated all plant employees on their team work, and encouraged them to share their story of safety success with others.

Also representing MSHA were Northeast District Manager Peter Montali, Assistant District Manager Dennis Yesko and Arlington Safety Division member Harvey Kirk, a former Union Bridge Production and Safety Engineer. Also representing Lehigh were Vice President of Cement Operations-North Region Dan Fritz, Corporate Safety and Health Director Randy Mucha, Area Manager-Safety and Health Nathan Kimble, Assistant Plant Manager Jeremy Luckin, Purchasing Manager Bruce Schott, Plant Accountant Mike Kreimer, and Public Relations Director Vince Campanella.

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