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District 7 - Coal Mine Safety and Health
Close Calls

"SEAT BELT SAVES" 4th Quarter - 2003

In early August, Tony Smith, operator of a Caterpillar D7 bull dozer for Appolo Fuels, Inc., Highwall miner No. 1 Mine, I.D.# 15-18388, was involved in a near miss accident in which seat belts saved his life. Mr. Smith was operating a dozer, pushing dirt down a steep incline while reclaiming part of the mine site. Near the bottom of the incline, Mr. Smith's dozer hit a rock, which caused the dozer to slide to the left. When he raised the blade to go over the rock, there was not enough dirt left in front of the blade to hold the dozer stable . The dozer then overturned and began to roll. Mr. Smith blacked out when his head hit part of the frame of the dozer, but when he came to, the dozer was sitting up right on it's tracks. Mr. Smith was unaware of how many times the dozer rolled over, but he credits wearing the seat belt to saving his life. The only injury Mr. Smith received was the bump to the head. He was sore, but otherwise fine.

"NEAR MISS" September 2003


September 29, 2003, Miner operator tramed miner into the No.2 Entry and decided to go to the right side of the miner before beginning cut. Entry measured 16.5 ft wide. Miner operator walked around the front of the miner with the miner still running. The carrier operator did not realize that the miner had stopped and continued to tram, pushing back of miner causing the miner to pivot catching the miner operator between the rib and the miner (Miner operator hit the red stop button and stopped carrier).

February 2002

On Thursday, February 21, 2002, a roof fall occurred at Tennco's White Oak underground mine located in Campbell County, Tennessee. The operators of a twin-head Fletcher roof bolting machine were in the process of installing roof bolts in the crosscut between the Numbers Four and Five headings when the mine roof failed approximately twenty-five (25) feet in front of the machine. The Automated Temporary Roof Support system (ATRS) held the rock momentarily but finally failed. The section of mine roof which failed measured twenty-five (25) feet long, twenty (20) feet wide, and five (5) to eight (8) inches thick, and weighed approximately seventeen (17) tons.
     The ATRS system did its job. The operator who was located most outby the fall escaped uninjured. The inby operator was struck in the left leg and received a compound fracture. The injured miner was subsequently flown to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, Tennessee and is now reportedly recovering well.
  • This outcome could have been much different. Had the operators not been carefully observing the roof and properly utilizing the ATRS system, a tragic fatal accident could have resulted. Always utilize your ATRS system. Make certain that it properly engages against the mine roof. Be constantly aware of changing roof conditions.
  • November 2001

    At Bell County Coal Corporation's preparation plant located in Bell County, Kentucky, a coal truck and a pickup truck collided while traveling in opposite directions. The pickup truck driver received non life threatening head injuries.
  • Always observe and follow all traffic rules, signals and posted warning signs.
  • At Kentucky Darby LLC's Darby Mine No.1 mine, located in Harlan County, Kentucky, a continuous mining machine operator was struck by a section of immediate roof that fell between roof bolts in a supported area, and suffered life-threatening crushing injuries.
  • Be constantly aware of changing roof conditions, and insure all areas are properly supported. Be familiar with, and follow the requirements of the approved roof control plan.
  • At DTE Clover LLC's DTE Clover mine, located in Harlan County, Kentucky, an independent contractor employee fell approximately 25 feet while installing sheeting to the side of a preparation plant under construction, suffering contusions and a serious concussion.
  • Always use proper protective devices ( life-lines, etc.) when working from an elevated position.
  • September 2001

    Two miners working in a coal production pit at Pine Branch Coal Sales Inc.'s #20 Strip mine, located in Perry County, Kentucky, were struck by a rock that suddenly fell from a highwall. Both miners suffered injuries, however one of the miners had his right leg amputated.
  • Be constantly vigilant for changing highwall conditions and stability. Mining methods employed by the operator must always be selected to insure highwall and spoil bank stability.
  • August 2001

    An inundation occurred at G&P Contractors Inc.'s Stoney Fork No. 2 mine, located in Knox County, Kentucky. The 001 Section was advancing using solid blasting mining methods when the No. 4 face was shot into an unmapped area of an adjacent abandoned mine. Approximately 6 inches of water came out of the old mine and flooded the working section which had a mining height of only 24 inches. There were no injuries. However the results could have been disastrous.
  • Insure mine maps are accurate and up-to- date. Where old works are in close proximity, test drilling should be performed.
  • July 2001

    A mine electrician was fatally injured while preparing to move a head drive starter box at Blue Diamond Coal Co.'s #77 mine, located in Perry County, Kentucky. The victim apparently came in contact with an energized electrical circuit.
  • Never work on energized equipment. (This event remains under investigation.)
  • April 2001

    On an abandoned mine property, previously operated by Cloverfork Mining and Excavating, located in Harlan County, Kentucky, two juveniles were riding All-Terrain-Vehicles (ATV's). While traveling down a steep grade one of the juveniles lost control of his ATV, overturned, rolled approximately 40 feet to the bottom of an inclined area, and received fatal injuries.
  • Access to abandoned mine property should be controlled and danger signs posted.
  • March 2001

    An inundation occurred at Goodin Creek Contracting, Inc.'s #2 mine, located in Knox County, Kentucky. The mine had advanced only three crosscuts from the portal in 27 inch mining height using solid blasting methods when the No. 1 face shot into a previously unknown adjacent mine. The working section was inundated by water. No one was injured. However the results could have been disastrous.
  • Insure mine maps are accurate and up-to- date. Where old works are in close proximity, test drilling should be performed.
  • February 2001

    At Lone Mountain Processing Inc.'s Huff Creek #1 mine, located in Harlan County, Kentucky, a continuous mining machine helper received multiple non life-threatening injuries when a coal rib rolled off striking him from behind.
  • Be constantly aware of changing roof conditions, and insure all areas are properly supported.
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