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COAL MINE FATALITY -On Sunday, April 11, 1999, a 51 year old bulldozer operator was fatally injured when the D9L bulldozer he was operating fell into a coal void contained within a clean coal surge pile. The bulldozer had been observed approaching the stacker facility at about 2:05 p.m. At about 2:45 p.m., after unsuccessful attempts to contact the victim by radio, a foreman observed from the overhead catwalk, that the dozer was engulfed in coal in the pile. Only about 2 feet of the corner of the blade could be seen. Rescue operations began immediately and at 4:40 p.m., the victim was recovered. The coal had broken in the front and rear windows and nearly filled the cab. Both cab doors were found in a fully opened position. The cavity was directly over a mass flow gate which, according to company personnel, had not been opened in over 10 days. At the time of the accident, coal was discharging onto the pile from the stacker tube, but no coal was being loaded from the pile. There were no eyewitnesses to the accident. The victim had 30 years of mining experience, 15 years at this operation and 2 years of experience in this activity.

MSHA - Fatal Alert Bulletin Photo
  • Provide training to every person that works on or near surge piles to alert them of the associated dangers and to the stipulations in the safety program.

  • Indicate the location of feeder points with an overhead marker and provide an indicator to show if the feeder is in use.

  • Use equipment with a fully enclosed cab equipped with high strength windows. Provide the window glass with structural support to prevent it from being pushed into the cab by outside pressure.

  • Establish a system of communication so that the equipment operators working on the surge pile are aware of plans to open or close feeders. Every feeder should be installed with the ability to fully close and open the feeder gates.

  • Permit no one to go near the surge pile if a cone is not visible on the surge pile. Never push material to an active feeder until a cone begins to form on the surface of the surge pile and always push perpendicular to the cone.

  • Ensure that mine management is notified immediately if a cone does not form above an activated feeder. This is an indication that a void has formed above the feeder and corrective actions must be taken to eliminate the void.
  • This is the 10th fatality reported in calendar year 1999 in the coal mining industry. As of this date in 1998, there were 9 fatalities. This is the first fatality classified as Machinery in 1999.

    For more information:
    Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon MSHA's Fatal Accident Investigation Report [FTL99C10]