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)

On October 9, 2016, a 61 year old Equipment Operator, with 3 years of experience, was fatally injured at a sand surface mine. The victim was attempting to attach a screen plant to a front-end loader by hooking them together with a steel cable when the equipment moved pinning the victim. The victim was later discovered injured and leaning against the loader bucket. The victim died of his injuries the following day.

Best Practices

  • Never position yourself between mobile equipment and a stationary object. Always be aware of your location in relation to machine parts that have the ability to move.
  • Ensure that line of sight, background noise, or other conditions do not interfere with communication.
  • Ensure miners are adequately trained for the task they are performing.
  • Use a tow bar with adequate length and proper rating when towing heavy equipment.
  • Make yourself more visible by wearing brightly-colored clothing or clothing that is distinguishable from surroundings.
  • Operate all machinery in accordance with the manufacturer’s operating guidelines.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf), The investigation will not be posted.

m13-jpgOn September 21, 2016, a 52 year old contract drill operator / mechanic, with more than 30 years of experience, was killed at a limestone mine while performing maintenance on a truck-mounted rotary drill.  At the time of the accident, the victim was attempting to remove the spindle cap from the top of the drill head while standing on the drilling deck.  The victim was using a modified pipe wrench in an attempt to loosen the spindle cap using the machine’s drill rotation hydraulics by reaching into the operator’s compartment.  As the victim activated the drill rotation lever, the wrench swung and struck him.  The force of the impact knocked him against the operator’s cab, denting the frame and breaking the side window while the rotating wrench pierced his abdomen.  As the victim attempted to climb down an adjacent step ladder, he was observed falling to the ground and striking his head.  The victim was transported to a local hospital and died later that day as a result of his injuries.

Best Practices

  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures to be used while performing maintenance on machinery.  Incorporate the manufacturer’s recommended operating procedures into related safety and task training programs.
  • Train all persons to recognize the potential hazards and understand safe work procedures to eliminate hazards before beginning work.
  • Ensure that machinery components are blocked against hazardous motion prior to performing maintenance or repairs.
  • Use appropriate equipment and hand tools for the job.
  • Do not place yourself in a position that will expose you to hazards while performing a task.
  • Stay inside of the drill cab when operating the drill.
  • Monitor personnel routinely to determine that safe work procedures are followed.

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

m11On August 9, 2016, a 33 year old Leadman Contractor, with 4 years of experience, was killed at a cement plant loadout.  The victim was attempting to replace the lift cable pulleys on the barge loadout chute, when the anchor point for the temporary rigging separated from the loadout chute and it unexpectedly fell. The falling loadout chute caused the lift cables to tighten and the lift cables pinned the victim to the loadout chute causing fatal injuries.

Best Practices

  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures before beginning work. Identify and control all hazards associated with the work to be performed and the methods to properly protect persons.  Consult and follow the manufacturer’s recommended safe work procedures for the maintenance task.
  • Task train all persons to recognize all potential hazardous conditions and to understand safe job procedures for elimination of the hazards before beginning work.
  • Examine work areas during the shift for hazards that may be created as a result of the work being performed.  Monitor persons routinely to determine safe work procedures are followed.
  • Conduct a complete pre-operational inspection of equipment that includes checking winches and cables.
  • Position yourself in areas where you will not be exposed to hazards resulting from a sudden release of energy.  Be aware of your location in relation to machine parts that can move.

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

c05On June 6, 2016, a 34-year-old contract laborer with 7 years of mining experience was fatally injured when a diesel-powered front-end loader fell on him.  Working together, another miner and the victim lowered the bucket and put downward hydraulic pressure on the bucket to raise the middle of the loader. Both miners then crawled under the loader.  The hydraulic pressure released, allowing the loader to lower, pinning both miners.  A mine examiner, who was nearby, lowered the bucket again to raise the loader off the miners.  One miner was freed and assisted in removing the unresponsive victim from under the loader.  Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was performed, but the victim could not be revived.

Best Practices

  • Do not work under a suspended load.
  • Never depend on hydraulics to support a load.  Use the manufacturer’s recommendations to lift and block equipment against hazardous motion BEFORE starting any repairs.
  • DO NOT proceed with repairs until all safety concerns are adequately resolved, especially if potential hazards or prescribed procedures are unclear,.
  • Conduct examinations, from safe locations, to identify hydraulic leaks and assure repairs are conducted in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.  Verify the release of, or fully control, all stored energy before initiating repairs.
  • Treat the suspended load as unblocked until blocks or jack stands are in place, fully supporting the weight, and equipment stability has been verified.
  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures before beginning work.  Identify and control all hazards associated with the work to be performed to ensure miners are protected.  Use the proper tools and equipment for the job.
  • Train all miners in the health and safety aspects and safe work procedures related to their assigned tasks.

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

m05On April 11, 2016, a 61-year old dozer operator with 18 years of mining experience was fatally injured at a surface titanium ore mine. He had been leveling the haul roads into the pit with the dozer and was found lying approximately 30 feet in front of the dozer.

Best Practices

  • Ensure that persons are trained, including task-training, to understand the hazards associated with the work being performed.
  • Set the parking brake and lower the bull dozer blade to the ground before dismounting equipment.
  • 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.
  • Do not place yourself in a position that will expose you to hazards while performing a task.
  • Maintain control of mobile equipment while it is in motion.
  • Maintain equipment braking systems in good repair and adjustment. Do not depend on hydraulic systems to hold mobile equipment stationary.
  • Never jump from mobile equipment.
  • Monitor persons routinely to determine safe work procedures are followed.

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

c03On Tuesday, January 19, 2016, a 36-year-old continuous mining machine operator was fatally injured when he was pinned between the conveyor boom of the remote controlled continuous mining machine and the coal rib while positioning the trailing cable. The victim had trammed the continuous mining machine back out of the No. 6 Face into the last open crosscut between No. 6 and No. 5 Entries. The victim had 5 years and 6 months of mining experience, with 1 year and 17 weeks experience as a continuous mining machine operator.

Best Practices

  • Avoid “RED ZONE” areas when operating or working near a remote controlled continuous mining machine. Ensure all personnel; including the equipment operator is outside the machine turning radius before starting or moving the equipment. STAY OUT of RED ZONES.
  • Maintain a safe distance from any moving equipment. Position the conveyor boom away from the operator or other miners working in the area or when moving the machine.
  • Perform manufacturer’s pre-operation examinations each shift to ensure the proximity detection system is in proper working order to verify that the shutdown zones are sufficient to stop the machine before contacting a miner.
  • Be aware that radio frequency interference and Electromagnetic Interference generated by mining electrical systems can disrupt communications between the Miner Wearable Components (MWC) and the Proximity Detection System.
  • MWCs should be worn securely at all times according to manufacturer recommendations and in a manner so that warning lights and sounds can be seen and heard.
  • Always ensure continuous mining machine pump motors are disabled before handling trailing cables and never defeat machine safety controls.
  • Develop procedures to assist the continuous mining machine operator when repositioning or moving the machine.

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

m16On December 15, 2015, a 75-year old tow truck laborer was killed at a cement plant.  As the tow truck operator was lowering the truck’s boom it struck the victim. The victim suffered a severe head wound but was conscious when transported to a local hospital but later died of his injuries.

Best Practices

  • Position yourself only in areas where you will not be exposed to hazards resulting from a sudden release of energy.  Be aware of your location in relation to machine parts that can move.
  • Establish communications between equipment operators and machine helpers.  Make sure those around you know your intentions.
  • Positively block machine parts (including hydraulic boom lifts) and suspended loads from motion prior to entering areas underneath them.
  • Ensure that persons are properly task trained regarding safe operating procedures before allowing them to operate mobile equipment and monitor work to ensure procedures are followed.
  • Ensure that all operating systems and safety features on mobile equipment are maintained and functional at all times.
  • Operate all machinery in accordance with manufacturers operating guidelines.
  • Wear all appropriate personal protective equipment.

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

m14On August 3, 2015, a 26-year old miner with 4 years of experience was killed at an underground gold mine. The drill was traveling in the reverse direction of travel up a 10% slope and was carrying a 13½ ft. long drill steel in a rack that had been installed on the machine. The forward end of the drill steel struck a rib causing it to be pushed back toward the operator. The drill steel struck and killed the operator, and caused him to fall to the ground. No witnesses were present at the time of the accident.

Best Practices

  • When mobile equipment is equipped with seat belts they should be worn at all times when operating that equipment.
  • Loads on mobile equipment shall be properly secured and positioned safely prior to moving equipment.
  • Miners should operate mobile equipment at speeds consistent with the type of equipment, roadway conditions, grades, clearances, visibility, and other traffic that allow them to maintain control at all times. Maintain all roadways free of materials that may pose a hazard to equipment operators. This includes materials on the floor and protruding from the ribs, back, or walls.
  • Keep mobile equipment operator’s stations free of materials that can impair the safe operation of the equipment. Ensure that equipment controls are maintained and function as designed.

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

m12On July 10, 2015, a 50-year old Superintendent with 26 years of experience was killed at a sand and gravel dredge operation.  Two miners were attempting to dislodge the clam shell bucket from the bottom of the pond when the dredge capsized. One miner was injured but was able to swim to shore and summon assistance. The victim was recovered eight days later.

Best Practices

  • Always wear a life jacket where there is a danger of falling into the water.
  • Ensure that machinery components are blocked against hazardous stored energy prior to performing maintenance or repairs.
  • Task train all persons to recognize all potential hazardous conditions and ensure they understand safe job procedures for elimination of the hazards before beginning work.
  • Examine and test all safety devices on a regular basis and ensure that they are operating properly.
  • When non-routine tasks or problems occur, conduct a risk analysis before starting the task to ensure that all hazards are evaluated and eliminated.

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