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)

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On March 14, 2017, an independent owner/operator truck driver, walked behind his raised end-dump trailer, while dumping his load and was engulfed by sand.

Best Practices

  • Conduct pre-operational checks to identify any defects that may affect the safe operation of equipment before it is placed into service.
  • Ensure workers who operate heavy equipment are adequately informed, instructed, trained and supervised.
  • Do not position yourself near a truck that is actively dumping, or near a truck while it is raising its bed.
  • Ensure that the tailgate is unlocked before elevating the cargo box to the dump position.
  • Do not attempt to dump the material if it sticks in the bed.  Stuck material can imbalance the load and affect the stability of the truck. Always deflate trailer air springs prior to raising the dump body.

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).

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), Final Report (pdf).