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COAL MINE FATALITY - On Saturday, January 12, 2008, a fall of highwall accident resulted in fatal injuries to a shovel operator with 22 years of mining experience. The shovel was located parallel to and approximately 40 feet away from the toe of the highwall which was approximately 45 feet high. During a normal work break, the shovel operator climbed off the shovel. While the shovel operator was positioned between the toe of the highwall and the shovel, the highwall collapsed and pushed the victim against the track of the shovel. After returning to the pit and finding the shovel operator missing, a haul truck driver radioed for assistance. The shovel operator was found mostly covered in the sandy loam type material from the highwall. The victim was recovered but CPR was unsuccessful.

Photo of Accident Scene Described in the Paragraph Above Photo of Accident Scene Described in the Paragraph Above


Best Practices
  • Never work or position yourself near or under dangerous highwalls or banks.
  • Promptly correct or post unsafe ground conditions.
  • When unsafe ground conditions are found during on-shift examinations and are being corrected, notify all persons working in the area of the hazard and post the affected area until the unsafe condition is corrected.
  • Do not work or position yourself between equipment and the highwall such that equipment may hinder escape from falls or slides.
  • 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 second fatality reported in calendar year 2008 in the coal mining industry. As of this date in 2007, there was one fatality reported in the coal mining industry. This is the first Fall of Highwall fatality in 2008. At this time in 2007, there were no fatalities in this classification.


    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