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COAL MINE FATALITY - On Friday, November 30, 2012, a 58-year old bulldozer operator with 37 years of experience was killed when an upstream slope failure occurred at a coal slurry impoundment. The victim was grading the upstream slope at the time of the accident. The bulldozer was carried into the pool area during the slide and sank with the victim on board.

Photo of Accident Scene Described in Paragraph Above

Best Practices
  • Provide hazard training to all personnel working on or near an impoundment for recognition of hazards associated with the impoundment and pushout work, such as surface cracks or bubbling in water/slurry.
  • Review safety precautions for upstream construction with equipment operators, along with material handling safety policies and designated storage areas for safety equipment.
  • Provide oversight by knowledgeable personnel at the work site. Assure that a person is present who is familiar with the mechanics of upstream construction and can recognize and have unsafe work practices and conditions corrected immediately.
  • Remove all personnel to a safe location when unsafe impoundment conditions are present.
  • Prior to initiating push-outs, expose the slurry delta by pumping excess surface water down to the maximum extent possible, and for as long as possible.
  • Use two-way radios or similar devices on all equipment during impoundment related construction, so that potential hazards can be communicated quickly with equipment operators and personnel.
  • Maintain a work skiff with oars and life jackets near the pushout area.


  • 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 nineteenth fatality reported in calendar year 2012 in the coal mining industry. As of this date in 2011 there were twenty fatalities reported in the coal mining industry. This is the first fatality classified as Impounding Dam (Other) 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 - Not Available Yet.