District 5 - Coal Mine Safety and Health
A Near Miss
On Friday, August 31, 2001, at approximately 5:00 p.m., a 51 year-old surface mine drill operator with at least 30 years mining experience was seriously injured when rocks fell from a highwall striking his shoulder and back. The drill operator was positioned at the base of the highwall where he was measuring 18 feet to the first line of holes to be drilled on the strip bench. As he turned to pace the distance, rocks fell from the highwall striking him. The highwall had been degraded by rainfall before and at the time of the accident. Examinations revealed other loose material present at different locations on the 60-foot highwall during the accident investigation.
- Persons, other than those necessary to correct unsafe conditions, shall not work near or under dangerous highwalls or banks.
- Examinations should be conducted after rain or freezing and thawing conditions, before work commences.
- Drilling distances from the base of the highwall should be measured by methods that do not expose the worker to material that might fall from the highwall or by estimating the distance since exact measurements are not needed.