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Fatality #13 - June 3, 2008

Accident Classification: Machinery
Location: Job #49, Kentucky
Mine Controller: TECO Coal Corporation
Mine Type: Surface
Mined Material: Coal (Bituminous)
Incident Date/Time: June 3, 2008 11:47 am

At approximately 11:47 a.m., on Tuesday, June 3, 2008, William S. Hill, a 33-year old tree cutter for Gopher Contracting, Contractor I.D. R828, received fatal injuries when the tree which he was in the process of felling, split and fell on him. Hill had approximately 10 years experience in tree cutting according to testimony, 6 days with this contractor and two days at this mine. Hill had completed a notch cut from the downhill side of the tree and was making the final back cut when the tree split. The tree was approximately 27 inches in average diameter, had an approximate ten-inch diameter hollow center, and was leaning downhill approximately 19 degrees. As the back cut proceeded into the hollow center, the tree split sixteen feet high before breaking off and falling on the victim. 

The accident occurred due to improper tree felling procedures being utilized. The tree was dangerous due to its size and lean and extra precautions should have been taken prior to and during the felling process. The tree cutting crew was not properly trained in hazard recognition and avoidance involved in tree felling. The contractor had not established a program of instruction with respect to safety regulations and procedures to be followed at the mine. Adequate workplace examinations had not been conducted. 


COAL MINE FATALITY - On Tuesday, June 3, 2008, a 33-year old tree cutter (contractor) with 10 years experience was fatally injured while cutting trees in advance of a surface mining operation. The victim had made a notch cut on a 24" diameter tree and was in the process of completing the back cut when the tree slabbed from the stump approximately 16 feet high then fell on the victim. The tree contained a hollow center which promoted the slabbing.