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Coal Mine Fatality - On Friday, March 12, 2004, a tree cutter with five years experience was fatally injured while clear cutting trees for a surface mining operation. After completing the last cut to fell a tree, the tree began to fall but stopped. The victim noticed that it was leaning in the direction of an adjacent tree. When he realized the cut tree could fall into the adjacent tree and become lodged, he attempted to cut the adjacent tree. While in the process of cutting the adjacent tree, the cut tree fell and struck the victim.

Photo of Accident Scene

Best Practices

  • Conduct an evaluation of each step in the work process for potential hazards before starting work.
  • Plan and clear a retreat path before felling is started.
  • Conduct felling on the same level or upslope from previously felled trees on any slope where rolling or sliding of trees or logs is foreseeable.
  • Do not work within two tree lengths of a danger tree, including any tree that has been cut but did not fall.
  • Fell or remove danger trees using mechanical means only (e.g. use mobile equipment to knock down a danger tree).
  • 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 26th fatality charged to the coal mining industry in calendar year 2004. As of March 12, there were 3 Machinery fatalities in 2004 compared to none in 2003.

    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