On Friday, August 25, 2017, a 51-year-old mine examiner with 27 years of mining experience was killed when, near the transfer point with the No. 2 conveyor belt, he apparently lost his footing attempting to cross over the moving No. 1 conveyor belt. He fell onto the No. 1 belt and hit a belt crossover located approximately 10 feet outby. The victim was found beside the conveyor belt just outside the mine entrance.

Best Practices

  • Never attempt to cross a moving conveyor belt except at suitable crossing facilities.
  • Train all employees thoroughly on the dangers of working on or traveling around moving conveyor belts.
  • Provide conveyor belt stop and start controls at areas where miners must access both sides of the belt.
  • Install practical and usable belt crossing facilities at strategic locations, including near controls, when height allows.
  • Install pull cords and switches that control power to the belt along the wide side of the length of the conveyor belt to stop the belt in emergencies.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

On June 19, 2017, a 32-year-old preshift examiner was fatally injured when he was thrown or jumped from a moving locomotive.  Two locomotives (front and rear) were being used to transport three supply cars into the mine.  The examiner was riding in the passenger seat of the front locomotive when the operators lost control on a grade and the front locomotive and the first two supply cars derailed.

Best Practices

  • Maintain all equipment, including diesel-powered locomotives, in approved and safe operating condition or remove from service.
  • Conduct a pre-operational examination of mobile diesel-powered track equipment to be used during a shift.  Equipment defects affecting safety shall be reported and corrected before the equipment is used.
  • Perform functional tests of the brakes and sanders as part of the pre-operational examination.
  • Train all mobile diesel-powered track equipment operators on the braking systems, as well as on changing conditions that can create dampness on the rails reducing traction.
  • Operate the haulage equipment at a safe speed consistent with the track’s condition. Sand the tracks when there is high humidity at the mine.
  • Engage both the automatic and manual braking systems when the locomotive is stopped for any reason.
  • Secure loads to prevent shifting while in motion. Ensure clear communication between operators when multiple locomotives are used for haulage.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

On Tuesday, June 13, 2017, a 32-year-old continuous mining machine operator was fatally injured when he was pinned between the cutter head of a remote controlled continuous mining machine and the coal rib. The victim was backing the continuous mining machine from the working face when the accident occurred.

Best Practices

  • Avoid “RED ZONE” areas when operating or working near a remote controlled continuous mining machine. Ensure all personnel including the equipment operator are outside the machine turning radius before starting or moving the equipment. STAY OUT of RED ZONES.
  • Maintain a safe distance from any moving equipment and frequently review avoiding Red Zone areas.  Position the conveyor boom and the cutter head away from yourself or other miners working in the area or when moving the machine.
  • Tram or reposition a remote controlled continuous mining machine from the rear of the machine to prevent disorientation.  Never position yourself between the face and the continuous mining machine when  the machine is on.
  • Disable the continuous mining machine pump motor before handling trailing cables or positioning trailing cable tie-offs onto the machine.

For Machines Equipped with Proximity Detection Systems

  • Correct proximity detection system malfunctions when they occur and only use “Emergency Stop Override” to move the continuous mining machine to a safe location for repairs.
  • Perform recommended manufacturer’s dynamic test to ensure the proximity detection system is functioning properly.  Verify that the shutdown zones are at sufficient distances to stop the machine before contacting a miner.
  • Mine wearable components should be worn securely at all times in accordance with manufacturer recommendations and in a manner so warning lights and sounds can be seen and heard.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

On Thursday, May 18, 2017, an outby utility miner received fatal injuries when his head hit the mine roof and/or roof support.  He and another miner were travelling in a trolley-powered supply locomotive when the accident occurred.  While the locomotive was still in motion, the trolley pole came off the trolley wire.  The victim grabbed the pole to place it back on the trolley wire.  In this slightly elevated position, the victim hit his head on the mine roof and was fatally injured.

Best Practices

  • STOP trolley-powered vehicles before placing the trolley pole back on the trolley wire.
  • Mining conditions change – often abruptly.  Always face the direction of travel and exercise extreme caution in low clearance areas.
  • Keep all body parts within the operator’s compartment while a vehicle is in motion.  Stay below the highest part of a vehicle frame or windshield, especially when travelling through low clearance areas.
  • Install signs to warn miners of approaching low clearance areas and train miners to reduce speed in those areas.
  • Conduct proper travelway examinations to identify and mitigate the hazards presented by low clearances.
  • Properly install and maintain trolley wire and trolley poles to eliminate areas where the trolley pole is prone to coming off the trolley wire.
  • Examine the trolley pole harp for excessive wear.  Ensure it is properly lubricated to allow it to swivel adequately to maintain proper contact with the trolley wire.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

On February 23, 2017, a 62-year-old section foreman was seriously injured by falling roof rock in the No. 3 entry of the active working section.  The rock fell from between roof bolts and was approximately 3 feet by 2 feet by 3 to 4 inches thick.  First-aid was administered and the injured miner was transported to a medical center.  Due to medical complications from the injuries he sustained, the victim died on April 6, 2017.

Best Practices

  • Install the most effective roof “skin” control technique, screen wire mesh, when roof bolts are installed.  Most roof fall injuries are caused by rock falling from between roof bolts (failure of the roof skin).
  • Conduct thorough examinations of the roof, face, and ribs where persons will be working and traveling; including sound and vibration testing where applicable.
  • Scale loose roof and ribs from a safe location.  Danger-off hazardous areas until appropriate corrective measures can be taken.
  • Be alert for changing conditions and report abnormal roof or rib conditions to mine management and other miners.
  • Correct all hazardous conditions before allowing persons to work or travel in such areas.  Install and examine test holes regularly for changes in roof strata.
  • Propose revisions to the roof control plan to provide measures to control roof skin hazards.
  • Know and follow the approved roof control plan and provide additional support when cracks or other abnormalities are detected.  Remember, the approved roof control plan contains minimum requirements.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

On January 25, 2017, a miner was found in an underground limestone mine after failing to exit the mine at the end of the shift.  The miner was located under material that had fallen from the rib in an area of the mine that had been barricaded to prevent entry due to bad roof and rib conditions.

Best Practices

  • Install barriers to impede unauthorized entry into areas where unattended hazardous ground conditions exist.
  • Establish procedures to account for miners in all areas of the mine – surface, underground, shops, and facilities – across and at the end of shifts.
  • Do not cross barriers that are intended to prevent access to dangered-off areas of underground mines.
  • Train miners to recognize potentially hazardous ground conditions and to understand safe job procedures for elimination of the hazards.
  • Never enter hazardous areas that have been dangered-off or otherwise identified to prohibit entry.
  • Develop and train miners on a method that clearly alerts miners not to enter hazardous areas.
  • If possible, do not work alone. If working alone, communicate intended movements to a responsible person.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf), Final Report (pdf).

On Thursday, January 26, 2017, a 42-year-old miner with 23 years of mining experience was fatally injured when he contacted a moving drive roller for the section belt.  The victim was positioned between the guard and the conveyor belt drive when he came in contact with the shaft of the belt drive roller.

Best Practices

  • Before working on equipment, de-energize electrical power, lock and tag the visual disconnect with your lock and tag, and block parts that can move against motion.
  • Keep guards securely in place while working around conveyor drives.
  • When working around moving machine parts, avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing such as shirts or jackets with hoods.  Secure ends of sleeves and pant legs, as well as loose items such as personal light cords.
  • Guard shaft ends such as protruding bolts, keyways or couplings.
  • Establish policies and procedures for conducting specific tasks on belt conveyors.
  • Train all employees thoroughly on the dangers of working or traveling around moving conveyor belts and their associated components,

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf), Final Report (pdf).

On December 2, 2016, a technical representative for a shield manufacturer, with 13 years of experience, received fatal injuries while adding components to the hydraulic system of a longwall shield.  The victim was positioned inside the shield near the hinge point when the shield collapsed and crushed him.

Best Practices

  • Ensure that miners who install, remove, or maintain shields are trained on proper procedures.
  • Never remove hydraulic components without first determining if they are pressurized and/or supporting weight.  Ensure all stored energy is released or controlled before initiating repairs.
  • Never work on hydraulic components of both supporting cylinders of longwall shields simultaneously.  A shield can collapse if hydraulic components from both cylinders are removed, even if both cylinders have functioning pilot valves.
  • Never work on a component that supports a raised portion of the shield unless the shield is blocked against motion.
  • Be aware of potential pinch points when working on or near hydraulic components.  Examine work areas for hazards that may be created as a result of the work being performed.
  • Maintain good communication with co-workers.  Make sure those around you know your intentions.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

c06On Monday, May 16, 2016, a 50-year-old motorman, with over 14 years of mining experience, was fatally injured when the diesel locomotive he was operating crashed through a closed airlock door.  The diesel locomotive was pulling six drop deck cars and had stopped to allow another motorman operating a trailing locomotive to separate the cars to provide the clearance needed to pass through the airlock.  As the other motorman was preparing to couple his locomotive to the cars, the train unexpectedly moved forward and continued away from him towards the slope bottom where it crashed through the closed outby airlock door.

Best Practices

  • Communicate your position and intended movements to other locomotive operators and other miners that may be in the area.
  • Always look in the direction of equipment movement and ensure travelways are clear.
  • Exercise caution in low clearance work areas and maintain adequate clearance for equipment.
  • Keep all body parts within the operator’s compartment while the equipment is in motion.
  • Maintain control of equipment so that it can be safely stopped.
  • Assure dead-man controls are fail-safe and maintain brakes and dynamic retarding controls.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf), Accident Report (pdf).

c05On June 6, 2016, a 34-year-old contract laborer with 7 years of mining experience was fatally injured when a diesel-powered front-end loader fell on him.  Working together, another miner and the victim lowered the bucket and put downward hydraulic pressure on the bucket to raise the middle of the loader. Both miners then crawled under the loader.  The hydraulic pressure released, allowing the loader to lower, pinning both miners.  A mine examiner, who was nearby, lowered the bucket again to raise the loader off the miners.  One miner was freed and assisted in removing the unresponsive victim from under the loader.  Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was performed, but the victim could not be revived.

Best Practices

  • Do not work under a suspended load.
  • Never depend on hydraulics to support a load.  Use the manufacturer’s recommendations to lift and block equipment against hazardous motion BEFORE starting any repairs.
  • DO NOT proceed with repairs until all safety concerns are adequately resolved, especially if potential hazards or prescribed procedures are unclear,.
  • Conduct examinations, from safe locations, to identify hydraulic leaks and assure repairs are conducted in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.  Verify the release of, or fully control, all stored energy before initiating repairs.
  • Treat the suspended load as unblocked until blocks or jack stands are in place, fully supporting the weight, and equipment stability has been verified.
  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures before beginning work.  Identify and control all hazards associated with the work to be performed to ensure miners are protected.  Use the proper tools and equipment for the job.
  • Train all miners in the health and safety aspects and safe work procedures related to their assigned tasks.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf), Accident Report (pdf).