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Coal Mine Fatality - On Saturday, October 23, 2004, a 57-year old chief electrician with 40 years mining experience, sustained severe burn injuries while he and two other miners were installing transformers in a substation. They connected the primary side of the transformers to the incoming power wires, removed the grounding clamps, and energized the transformers. After about 15 minutes, they returned to connect the secondary side of the transformers. While the other miners went to the transformers, the chief mounted a small platform, and without de-energizing the transformers, attempted to reinstall the grounding clamps. He connected one grounding clamp to a grounded "L" bracket. With a second grounding clamp, he contacted an energized connection on the recloser. A high energy arc resulted that injured the victim. The victim expired on Friday, October 29 2004.

Diagram of Accident Scene

Best Practices

  • Ensure that high-voltage lines are de-energized and grounded, and visual disconnecting device(s) are locked out and tagged before performing electrical work.
  • Install grounding devices only on the load side of open visual disconnects.
  • Use personal protective equipment (gloves, etc.) when performing electrical work.
  • Ensure that all circuit breakers and disconnecting switches are properly marked for identification purposes.
  • Never assume that you know how a circuit is wired. Ask for help and/or consult a wiring diagram/schematic if you are unsure.
  • Use properly rated non-contact voltage testers to ensure that circuits are de-energized.
  • 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 23rd fatality reported in calendar year 2004 in the coal mining industry. As of this date in 2003, there were 30 fatalities. This is the fourth fatality classified as Electrical in 2004.

    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