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 August 3, 2017, a 32-year-old miner with 6 years of mining experience was fatally crushed while he was cutting one end of a metal beam.  He was dismantling a metal structure at a preparation plant when the beam fell on him.

Best Practices

  • Securely block equipment and components against hazardous motion at all times while performing work.
  • Ensure that blocking material is competent, substantial, and adequate to support the load.
  • Require all persons to be positioned where they will not be exposed to hazards.  Do not work in pinch points where inadvertent movement could cause injury.
  • Before beginning work, analyze all tasks, establish safe work procedures, train miners, and eliminate hazards.  Be alert for hazards that may be created while the work is being performed.
  • Monitor all persons to ensure safe work procedures, including safe work positioning, are followed.
  • When possible, do not allow miners to work alone.  If a miner works alone, establish a routine of checking on them.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

On July 25, 2017, a 28-year-old bulldozer operator with 1 year and 9 months of mining experience was fatally injured at a surface facility.  The victim was operating a bulldozer, pushing material off of a refuse bank before the accident occurred.  He was found lying in the bulldozer’s push path at the top of an incline near the edge of the refuse bank.  The bulldozer had run over the victim and continued over the edge of the incline, coming to rest at the bottom of the embankment.

Best Practices

  • Ensure that persons are trained, including task-training, to understand the hazards associated with the work being performed.
  • Maintain control of mobile equipment while it is in motion.
  • Maintain equipment braking systems in good repair and adjustment.  Conduct proper maintenance on safety related systems.
  • Before leaving a bulldozer unattended, operators should follow manufacturer recommended operating procedures to ensure that the equipment is secured from movement.  This could include disengaging the transmission, setting the parking brake, and lowering the bulldozer blade to the ground before dismounting the equipment.
  • Do not depend on hydraulic systems to hold mobile equipment stationary.
  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures before beginning work.  Identify and control all hazards associated with the work to be performed and use methods to properly protect persons.
  • Do not place yourself in a position that will expose you to hazards while performing a task.

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 Saturday, May 6, 2017, a 62-year-old miner with 14 years of mining experience was fatally injured when the haul truck he was operating went over the highwall and fell approximately 150 feet. The victim was dumping overburden over the highwall when the accident occurred.

Best Practices

  • DUMP SHORT and PUSH OVER when dumping loads over highwalls.  See MSHA’s Dump Point Inspection Handbook
  • Maintain adequate ground conditions, including berms, at dump locations.
  • Examine dump locations prior to beginning work and as mine conditions change.  Clearly mark dump locations with reflectors and/or markers.
  • Train miners to use safe dumping procedures and recognize dumping hazards.
  • Monitor dumping activities to assure safe work practices are followed.

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 Wednesday, March 30, 2017, at 2:09 am, a 33-year-old miner (auger operator/foreman) was fatally injured at a surface auger mine.  The miner was struck by a rock that fell from the bottom section of the highwall while changing worn cutter-head bits located at the front of the auger machine.  The rock was approximately 4 feet by 5 feet by 30 inches in size.

Best Practices

  • Follow the approved ground control plan at all times to ensure the safe control of highwalls.
  • Ensure that miners at all times work, travel, and operate mining systems/equipment at a safe distance from the toe of the highwall.
  • Position and reposition the auger machine canopy as needed to protect miners near the toe of a highwall from falling material.
  • Assign a spotter during maintenance or other activities to evaluate the ground conditions when miners are positioned near the toe of the highwall.
  • Miners should not work or position themselves between equipment and the highwall in such a manner that the equipment hinders escape from falls or slides.
  • Safely examine a highwall from as many perspectives as possible (bottom, sides, and top) before work begins.  Use adequate lighting during non-daylight hours to conduct examinations and to illuminate work areas.
  • Conduct additional examinations as necessary, especially during periods of changing weather conditions.
  • Examine areas at the back of the top and the face of the highwall for hazards presented by cracks, sloughing, loose ground, and large rocks.
  • Observe and notify miners of highwall hazards immediately.  Remove highwall hazards or barricade hazardous areas to keep miners away.
  • Train all miners to recognize hazardous highwall conditions.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

On February 27, 2017, a 43-year-old plant attendant, with approximately 13 years of experience, was fatally injured when he fell through a 27-inch opening in a plate press.  The victim had climbed a ladder to repair a damaged plate when he fell about 19 feet onto a moving refuse belt.  The victim was found in a transfer chute, approximately 55 feet down the belt from where he had fallen.

Best Practices

  • Provide and maintain safe access to all work areas.  Train miners on how to safely access all work areas.
  • Protect and guard all openings through which persons may fall.  Use fall protection, maintaining 100 % tie off, when fall hazards exist.  See Fall Prevention Safety Target Package.
  • Establish specific policies and procedures for the use of fall protection.
  • Ensure workers are trained in the use of fall protection.  Monitor work practices to ensure fall protection is being properly used.
  • Conduct a risk assessment of the work area prior to beginning any task and identify all possible hazards.  Use the SLAM: Stop, Look, Analyze, and Manage approach for work place safety.

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