| MSHA's Accident Prevention Program
Mark Buried Utility Lines
Recently a fatal mining accident occurred when a 992D Caterpillar Wheel Loader operator was in the process of removing rock binder material above a coal seam in preparation for removal of the coal. The loader bucket penetrated a buried 20-inch diameter, high pressure, public utility natural gas transmission line. The loader became engulfed in flames resulting in serious and ultimately fatal burns to the loader operator.
Based on the accident investigation it was determined that the utility company line markers may not have provided adequate location information for the miner while working in the vicinity of the underground utility line. Each curvature in a transmission line may not have been adequately identified by line markers to alert the mine operator of the exact location in an active mining area.
Therefore, the following precautions are recommended to minimize the potential for additional accidents involving accidental contact with underground utility lines:
- Determine the type and location of all underground public and private utility lines.
- The utility line information should be retained and transferred to any future change in mine operators.
- Post for viewing, by all miners, a mine map which clearly depicts the type and location of all underground utility lines within the mining property. The mine map should be located in a convenient and publicly accessible area.
- When active mining operations are in the vicinity of underground utility markers, call your local One-Call Center or the toll-free National Referral Center.
State Specific One Call contact information can be gained using the following link:
Additional information concerning safe excavation practices can be obtained at Dig Safely:
Request the utility company to identify the exact location of the utility line. Temporary line markers should be placed at 20 to 25 feet intervals directly above the utility line throughout the active mining area. The line markers should extend at least 150 feet beyond the ends of the active mining area.