The mine had two separate 12,470 high voltage lines underground. One high voltage line supplied power to the longwall section and was referred to as "longwall power". The other high voltage line supplied power to the rest of the mine and was referred to as "mine power". The junction boxes associated with the longwall high voltage line were painted red, while junction boxes in the mine power high voltage line were painted yellow.
On the day of the accident, the mine had been experiencing difficulty with the "mine power" high voltage line due to carbon tracking in the yellow junction boxes. The chief electrician and two other electricians were in the process of cleaning the connections inside of the yellow junction boxes when the accident occurred. The junction box involved in the accident was painted yellow ( indicating "mine power" ), but was actually a part of the "longwall power" system. Furthermore, the magnetic lid switches in the junction box, which were designed to deenergize power upon removal of the cover, were disconnected at the time.
Due to the color of the junction box, the victim may have mistaken it as part of the "mine power" system, which he thought was deenergized at the time. Also, the lid switches could not deenergize the power upon removal of the lid because they were disconnected.
This is the 36th coal mine fatality in 1995. As of October 20 last year there had been 36 fatalities. This death is the sixth classified as ELECTRICAL in 1995.
For more information:
MSHA's Fatal Accident Investigation Report [FTL95C36]