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COAL MINE FATALITY - On Wednesday, February 20, 2002, a 49-year old miner was killed by a fall of rock from a highwall at a surface coal mine. The miner was operating a Caterpillar Model 834 rubber tire bulldozer, cleaning the pit floor at the No. 8 shovel, when rock and material fell from the highwall striking the bulldozer. The massive block of material crushed the cab causing fatal injuries. The bulldozer was equipped with a falling object protective structure (FOPS)/ rollover protective structure (ROPS), which was not sufficient to prevent fatal injury to the operator. The ROPS/FOPS and cab were removed during recovery operations and are not visible in the picture below.

Photo of Accident Scene

Best Practices

  • Highwalls and work areas should be thoroughly examined for hazardous conditions and any loose material should be scaled from the highwall.

  • Mining systems should ensure that equipment operating personnel's work or travel areas are a safe distance from the toe of the highwall.

  • Personnel should be thoroughly trained in the requirements of the company's ground control plan.
  • 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 7th fatal accident reported in calendar year 2002 for the coal mining industry. As of this date in 2001, there was one fatality reported for the coal mining industry. This is the first fatal accident classified as a fall of highwall in 2002. At this time in 2001, there were no fatal accidents classified as fall of highwall for the coal mining industry.

    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