On Wednesday, September 23, 2009, at approximately 9:35 p.m., Robert B. Comer, a contract miner/driller was fatally injured when he fell from a work platform to the bottom of a shaft that was under construction. Comer and four other employees were working on the top deck of a two-deck work platform that was suspended in the 22 foot diameter shaft. A section of steel grating covering an opening in the center of the platform was removed to facilitate the removal of the concrete remix (a special pipe used during concrete pours in the shaft). Comer fell through the opening to the bottom of the shaft, a distance of approximately 38 feet. He was wearing a full-body harness and a lanyard, but the lanyard was not secured (tied off to a suitable connection).
The accident occurred because Cowin management failed to ensure that fall protection requirements contained in the regulations, the approved shaft sinking plan, and Cowin's fall protection policy were complied with.
- Always wear, and use, suitable fall protection when positioned or working where fall hazards exist.
- Assure that fall protection systems for multiple workers allow for independent movement.
- Establish work procedures to eliminate creating openings through which persons may fall.
- Stop, Look, Analyze and Manage the hazards associated with each work task.
This is the twelfth fatality reported in calendar year 2009 in the coal mining industry. As of this date in 2008, there were 22 fatalities reported in the coal mining industry. This is the second "Slip/Fall of Person" fatality in 2009. At this time in 2008, there was one fatality in this classification.