On July 14, 2017, a part time mine employee was moving irrigation pipe by hand and was electrocuted when the pipe came in contact with high voltage transmission lines overhead.

Best Practices

  • Before work begins, conduct a hazard assessment and examine the work area to identify and correct hazards and ensure safe distances to overhead power lines.
  • Contact the electrical utility to determine the operating voltage of the line and confirm the safe limits of approach distances.
  • Do not use electrically conductive tools or materials in situations where they may contact overhead power lines.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

On June 8, 2017, a truck driver was operating a Caterpillar 777F haul truck, dumping a load of gravel, when the ground at the dump point collapsed.   The truck went over the edge of the dump point, overturning and landing on its roof approximately 30 feet below. The victim was transported to the hospital, where he later died of his injuries.

Best Practices

  • Ensure seat belts are provided, maintained, and worn at all times when equipment is in operation.
  • Incorporate engineering controls that require seat belts to be properly fastened before equipment can be put into motion.
  • Visually inspect dumping locations prior to beginning work and as changing conditions change.
  • While loading out stockpiles, do not excavate the toe of the slopes below dumping points and travelways.
  • Utilize a bulldozer with the “dump-short, push-over” method of stockpiling material.
  • Provide and maintain adequate berms on the banks of roadways and at dumping points where a drop-off exists.
  • Train miners to recognize and avoid dumping point hazards and to understand the hazards associated with the work being performed.

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

On March 24, 2017, the victim exited his personal flatbed truck, which was left running in 6th gear, to turn off the genset (diesel generator). Prior to ascending the steps to the diesel generator, it appears the flatbed truck moved forward and pinned him against the genset trailer. The victim was found on Monday, March 27, 2017, and pronounced dead at the scene.

Best Practices

  • Place the transmission in park and set the park brake before exiting vehicle.
  • Do not depend on hydraulic systems to hold mobile equipment in a stationary position.
  • Always chock the wheels when parking vehicles on a grade.
  • Never place yourself in front of an unsecured piece of mobile equipment

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)