Fatality #4 for Coal Mining 2017

Apr 19, 2017

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)

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