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)

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)

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).

c04On Friday, March 25, 2016, a 48-year-old continuous mining machine operator, with 30 years of mining experience, was fatally injured when an overhanging section of a rock rib fell and pinned him against the haulage equipment. The fallen rib was approximately 44 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 2 feet thick. The victim was remotely operating a continuous mining machine that was being used to excavate material during the construction of a coal transfer shaft. The area where the accident occurred had a depth of cover of approximately 1,950 feet and a height of approximately 17 feet.

Best Practices

  • Be aware of potential hazards at all times when working or traveling near mine ribs, especially when conditions exist that could cause roof or rib disturbance. Take additional safety precautions in these conditions and when mining heights increase.
  • Do not stand between ribs and remotely controlled face equipment.
  • Know and follow all provisions of the approved roof control plan.  Recognize that this plan has minimum requirements and additional measures must be taken as mining conditions warrant.
  • Train all miners to conduct thorough examinations of the roof, face, and ribs where miners will be working or traveling. Correct all hazardous conditions before allowing miners in such areas. Continuously watch for changing conditions and conduct more frequent examinations when abnormal conditions are present.
  • Pay particular attention to deteriorating roof and rib conditions when working in, or traveling through, older areas of the mine.  Provide additional training for specialized work, such as outby construction, emphasizing best practices for each specific task.
  • Perform a site-specific risk assessment for underground construction projects since unusual hazards may be encountered.  Identify and correct hazardous conditions related to falls of the roof, face, and ribs.
  • Install rib bolts on cycle and in a consistent pattern for the best protection against rib falls.
  • Provide additional support when fractures or other abnormalities are detected and use appropriate standing support beneath overhanging brows if they cannot be taken down or adequately bolted.
  • Adequately scale any loose rib material from a safe location with a bar of suitable length.
  • Historically, rib related accidents occur in areas where the mining height exceeds 7 feet and the cover is more than 700 feet. In such areas, make frequent examinations and take proactive measures to assure adequate, effective rib support is installed and maintained.

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

c03On Tuesday, January 19, 2016, a 36-year-old continuous mining machine operator was fatally injured when he was pinned between the conveyor boom of the remote controlled continuous mining machine and the coal rib while positioning the trailing cable. The victim had trammed the continuous mining machine back out of the No. 6 Face into the last open crosscut between No. 6 and No. 5 Entries. The victim had 5 years and 6 months of mining experience, with 1 year and 17 weeks experience as a continuous mining machine operator.

Best Practices

  • Avoid “RED ZONE” areas when operating or working near a remote controlled continuous mining machine. Ensure all personnel; including the equipment operator is outside the machine turning radius before starting or moving the equipment. STAY OUT of RED ZONES.
  • Maintain a safe distance from any moving equipment. Position the conveyor boom away from the operator or other miners working in the area or when moving the machine.
  • Perform manufacturer’s pre-operation examinations each shift to ensure the proximity detection system is in proper working order to verify that the shutdown zones are sufficient to stop the machine before contacting a miner.
  • Be aware that radio frequency interference and Electromagnetic Interference generated by mining electrical systems can disrupt communications between the Miner Wearable Components (MWC) and the Proximity Detection System.
  • MWCs should be worn securely at all times according to manufacturer recommendations and in a manner so that warning lights and sounds can be seen and heard.
  • Always ensure continuous mining machine pump motors are disabled before handling trailing cables and never defeat machine safety controls.
  • Develop procedures to assist the continuous mining machine operator when repositioning or moving the machine.

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

c02On January 16, 2016, a 31 year old continuous mining machine operator with 12 years of mining experience was fatally injured when a section of coal/rock rib measuring 4.5 feet long, 3 feet high, and 3 feet thick fell and pinned him to the mine floor. The victim was remotely operating the continuous miner in the number 2 entry of the advancing section when the accident occurred.

Best Practices

  • Train all miners and supervisors to conduct thorough examinations of the roof, face, and ribs where persons will be working and traveling. Correct all hazardous conditions before allowing persons to work or travel in such areas.
  •  Be aware of potential hazards at all times when working or traveling near ribs. Take additional safety precautions when mining heights increase to prevent development of rib hazards.
  • Avoid areas of close clearance between ribs and equipment.
  • Know and follow the approved roof control plan and provide additional support when roof or rib fractures, or other abnormalities are detected.  Remember, the approved roof control plan only contains minimum requirements.
  • Install rib bolts with adequate surface coverage hardware on cycle and in a consistent pattern for the best protection against rib falls. In addition to rib bolts and mesh, setting post on 4 foot centers along questionable rib lines will provide additional protection against rib rolls.
  • Be alert for changing conditions, especially after activities that could cause roof disturbance. Report abnormal roof or rib conditions to mine management.
  • Adequately support or scale any loose roof or rib material from a safe location.  Use a bar of suitable length and design when scaling.
  • Danger off hazardous areas until appropriate corrective measures can be taken.

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

c01On Monday, January 4, 2016, a 53 year-old belt foreman/fireboss with 34 years of mining experience was fatally injured when he came in contact with a moving underground belt conveyor. The victim was preparing to change out a hold up roller when he was caught by the moving belt and pulled into the roller.

Best Practices

  • Never perform work on a moving conveyor belt.
  • Ensure that power is off with a visual disconnect before any work is performed, use your own lock and tag.
  • Ensure that machinery is blocked against motion before performing maintenance or repairs.
  • Always identify safety hazards before beginning any task.
  • Stay out of areas along a moving conveyor belt where clearance is restricted.
  • Cross moving conveyor belts only where suitable crossing facilities are provided. (e.g. cross-overs or cross-unders).
  • Ensure all guards are adequate and securely in place where exposed moving machine parts may be contacted by persons.

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