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COAL MINE FATALITY - On Sunday, April 30, 2000, a 26-year-old underground electrician, with 5-1/2 years mining experience, was fatally injured when he came in contact with an energized high voltage circuit on a High Tech Electric Section Power Distribution Center. The victim had been assigned to replace two circuit breakers on the power center, which would not have required the victim to enter the high voltage side of the power center. At the time of the investigation, visibility was impaired on one of the two sight windows that are provided to determine the position of the knife blades which are used as a visible disconnect. Since one of the blade switches could not be seen through the windows, it is believed that the victim opened the lid to the 7200-volt incoming power to ensure that all three of the knife blade switches were in the open position. The power center was equipped with lid switches to de-energize the power when the lids were opened; however, the lid switch on the high voltage compartment had been defeated. There were no eyewitnesses to the accident.

Fatal Alert Bulletin Photo

Best Practices

  • Care should be taken to ensure all circuits are de-energized before any work is started.

  • De-energization devices should never be defeated and should always be maintained in operable condition.

  • Proper lockout and tag procedures should be followed at all times.
  • More Information
    E-mail Suggestion for Accident Prevention Program
    Submit your own suggestion for a remedy to prevent this type of accident in the future.
    Please specify if you wish your submission to be anonymous or whether your name may be used. Please include the year of the fatality and the fatality number.

    This is the tenth fatality reported in calendar year 2000 in the coal mining industry. As of this date in 1999, there were eleven fatalities. This is the second electrical fatality reported in the coal mining industry in 2000. There were no electrical fatalities reported in the same period in 1999.

    The information provided in this notice is based on preliminary data ONLY and does not represent final determinations regarding the nature of the incident or conclusions regarding the cause of the fatality.

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