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COAL MINE FATALITY - In the early predawn hours of Friday, February 20, 1998, coal refuse dumping operations were on-going normally with trucks hauling coarse refuse to a slurry impoundment site. While the haulage trucks dumped refuse on one end of the site, a 65-year-old mobile equipment operator was operating a bulldozer on the other end of the site. The bulldozer had been pushing refuse toward the slurry, however observations at the site revealed the mobile equipment operator was in the process of "back-dragging" the area at the time of the accident. The bulldozer traveled backwards into the slurry impoundment, sunk 15 to 20 feet, became completely submerged, and slowly continued sinking to a depth of 25 to 30 feet. The mobile equipment operator could not escape from the enclosed cab was was asphyxiated.

  • Persons should not work alone in areas where they cannot be easily seen or heard unless a communication device is provided.

  • Work areas should have sufficient illumination to ensure safe working conditions.
  • This is the fifth fatality reported in calendar year 1998 in the coal mining industry. As of this date in 1997 there were 4 fatalities. This is the first fatality classified as MACHINERY in 1998.

    For more information:
    Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon MSHA's Fatal Accident Investigation Report [FTL98C05]