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)

ftl2014m14On June 18, 2014, a 41-year-old production supervisor with 19 years of mining experience was killed at a sand and gravel mine.  The victim and two contract workers were attempting to remove an impeller that was seized onto the threaded shaft of a centrifugal pump.  After several failed attempts to unscrew the impeller, heat from a torch was applied to the enclosed hub on the impeller.  While applying heat, the hub exploded and metal fragments struck the victim.

Best Practices

  • 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.
  • Train all persons to understand the hazards associated with the work being performed.
  • Do not apply heat or open flame where enclosed spaces such as impeller hubs, mounted tires, suspension struts, or tanks may be subject to explosion except as directed by the manufacturer.
  • Always examine materials before applying heat, cutting, or welding to ensure gases from the applied heat can vent.
  • Never apply heat to materials before ensuring that flammables/combustibles/explosive materials are not present.
  • Never apply heat to materials where pressure build up is possible.
  • Do not apply heat or open flame where lubricants, oil, or grease are present.
  • Use special tools, provided by the manufacturer, to loosen an impeller on a pump.
  • Refer to the maintenance manual, warning labels on the pump, or contact the manufacturer for special safety precautions.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf), MSHA Investigation Report (pdf), Overview (powerpoint), Overview (pdf).

On Tuesday, June 8, 2010, a 38-year old service truck operator with seven years of mining experience, was fatally injured while in the process of refueling a diesel track-mounted highwall drill. The operator was apparently placing the fuel nozzle into the diesel fuel tank when an ignition/explosion erupted into a fire, engulfing him in flames.

Best Practices

  • Open fuel tank cap slowly to relieve any pressure buildup.
  • Ensure that the refueling area is well ventilated, especially in low areas where heavy fuel vapors can accumulate.
  • Before refueling, turn off the engine(s) and motor(s) and eliminate other potential ignition sources.
  • Check hydraulic lines and connections, especially those near hot surfaces, prior to operating the vehicle. Perform maintenance or repairs when necessary.
  • Ensure that all affected persons are familiar with the Material Safety Data Sheets on fuels and lubricants in use.

Click here for: Spanish Fatalgram (pdf), MSHA Investigation Report (pdf)

On Monday, April 5, 2010, 29 miners were fatally injured and 2 miners received serious injuries when an explosion occurred in a large underground coal mine. The victims were located in different areas of the mine, some on their way out of the mine and others were involved with mining activities.

Best Practices

The following best practices are generally applicable to underground mining. An investigation is ongoing at Upper Big Branch which will determine the root cause(s) of the explosion on April 5, 2010.

  • EFFECTIVE VENTILATION SYSTEM – Properly design, frequently examine, and properly maintain a ventilation system that is effective at all times for all areas of the mine. This is the first line of defense against an explosion. Maintain proper air quality in bleeders for examiners.
  • ADEQUATE ROCK DUST – Apply rock dust liberally, even in wet areas, in all faces and outby areas. Maintain the applications to prevent the propagation of coal dust explosions.
  • PROPER EXAMINATIONS and IMMEDIATE CORRECTIVE ACTIONS – Conduct proper pre-shift, on-shift, supplemental, and electrical examinations. Immediately eliminate hazards involving inadequate ventilation, insufficient rock dust, methane accumulations, and permissibility violations.
  • METHANE AND OXYGEN CHECKS – Make frequent methane and oxygen measurements, especially during periods of rapid decline in barometric pressure.
  • COMBUSTIBLE MATERIAL – Clean up loose coal, coal dust, and other combustible material. The possibility of an explosion or fire can be diminished by reducing the fuel supply.
  • WATER SPRAYS and DUST COLLECTORS – Water sprays and dust collectors reduce the fuel available for a potential fire or explosion.
  • ESCAPEWAYS – Conduct escapeway drills and maintain escapeways in safe condition and assure that lifelines are being maintained.
  • ATMOSPHERIC MONITORING SYSTEMS (AMS) – Utilize AMS to monitor strategic locations for carbon monoxide, oxygen content, methane content, and air volumes.

Click here for: Single Source page MSHA Online (web page), Spanish Fatalgram (pdf)