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COAL MINE FATALITY - On Sunday, February 26, 2012, at 1:15 a.m., a 52-year-old deckhand with 4 years of mining experience was determined missing. He had been assigned the task of measuring the draft of a set of empty barges that were to be loaded. He had to cross from the dock to the first empty barge. Witnesses observed him on the empty barge walking up-river on the barge. He apparently fell from the barge into the water. Co-workers saw his cap in the water and immediately called for the rescue squad. The victim was found beneath the bow of the dock at approximately 2:30 a.m. The miner was wearing a flotation device, but the flotation device was not designed to keep an unconscious miner's face above water.

Photo of Accident Scene Described in Paragraph Above
Best Practices

  • Utilize electronic devices to determine the draft in barges.
  • Install and use lifeline tie-off systems to provide fall protection over water.
  • Utilize and maintain sufficient area lighting and personal lighting.
  • Set up a look out and communications protocol. Do not work alone.
  • Ensure safe access is provided where persons are required to work or travel. Watch footing and stay clear of ropes, cables, and other obstacles. Use de-icing material to clear ice from walkways. Maintain three points of contact where practicable.
  • Wear properly fitted personal flotation devices (PFD) that are designed to keep an unconscious miner's face above water.
  • Utilize wearable electronic emergency warning systems to immediately notify others of a fall into water. These devices can be equipped with water activated strobe lights and global positioning system (GPS) tracking.

  • 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 during calendar year 2012 in the coal mining industry. As of this date in 2011, there were 2 fatalities reported in the coal mining industry. This is first fatality classified as a Slip or Fall of Person accident in 2012. At this time in 2011, 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