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)

On February 3, 2017, a 54-year-old truck driver received hip and leg fractures when he jumped from the cab of his truck as it was overturning.  The victim positioned the truck on the dump pad and began raising the bed.  Material in the bed was frozen or compacted and created an uneven load.  As the bed reached full extension, the truck fell over.  Due to complications associated with his injuries, the victim passed away 7 days later.

Best Practices

  • Stay in the cab when problems are encountered while operating the truck.  Do not jump.
  • Always wear a seatbelt when operating mobile equipment.
  • Establish safe work procedures for dumping a loaded truck and train all employees.
  • Use techniques to prevent material from freezing or sticking in truck beds.
  • After dumping, remove compacted material from the truck bed before more material is added.
  • Assure all loads are evenly distributed.
  • While dumping, use mirrors to see if the truck bed begins to lean and, if it does, immediately lower the bed.
  • Examine work areas and routinely monitor work habits to ensure that safe work procedures are followed.
  • Identify and control all hazards associated with the work to be performed.

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)

Two mining deaths within 24 hours in which the victims were working alone and in restricted areas where there were hazardous conditions highlights the need to observe best practices to avoid hazardous areas and avoid working alone, among other tips. Both were in underground mines, one coal and one limestone.

Download Alert (pdf) here.

c08On Friday, September 23, 2016, a 46-year-old miner was fatally injured in a vehicle accident that occurred along a portion of a mine’s access/haul road. The victim (passenger) and a coworker (driver) were traveling down an inclined portion of the road when the driver apparently lost control of the pickup truck, causing it to strike the road berm and roll over in the roadway.

Best Practices

  • Always wear a seat belt when operating mobile equipment, including personal trucks and automobiles.
  • Operate vehicles and equipment at safe speeds, maintain control at all times, and adjust speed for the prevailing conditions (road grade, visibility, inclement weather, etc).
  • Avoid using hand-held cell phones or texting while operating any mobile equipment.
  • Ensure that traffic rules, speed limits, and warning signs are posted in visible locations along the roadway.  Ensure the rules are obeyed.
  • Ensure that access roads on mine property used by miners in personal vehicles are maintained and are free of hazards.
  • Provide proper training to all employees on roadway hazards.
  • Maintain steering and braking systems in good repair and adjustment.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

c07On Friday, July 29, 2016, a 58-year-old miner with 40 years of mining experience sustained fatal injuries when an ignition occurred in the shaft he and another miner were working above.  Two miners were welding threaded blocks to secure guarding around the drive-shaft between a motor and dewatering pump.  Methane ignited within the shaft, and the victim was in the direct line of the ignition force.  On August 4, 2016, the victim died from the injuries received during the accident.

Best Practices

  • Do not weld, cut, or solder with an arc or flame where methane is detected in excess of 1% by volume.  Provide supplemental ventilation in work areas where methane may be encountered.
  • Conduct proper examinations for methane immediately before and periodically during welding, cutting, or soldering, especially in areas likely to contain methane.  Perform examinations with properly calibrated methane detectors that are capable of detecting concentrations greater than 5%.
  • Ensure smoldering metal or sparks from welding, cutting, or soldering do not result in the ignition of combustible materials or methane.  Install non-combustible barriers below welding, cutting, or soldering operations in or over a shaft.
  • Provide adequate training on the characteristics of mine gases and in the use of handheld gas detectors, including the use of extendable probes or pumps.
  • Always use non-sparking tools when working where there is a potential for flammable or explosive methane concentrations and, when practicable, utilize options which do not involve welding or cutting when working near these areas.

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).