COAL MINE FATALITY -On Wednesday, September 16, 2015, a 29-year-old electrician with 9 years of mining experience was killed while replacing a load locking valve on the cutter head jack of a continuous mining machine. Prior to working on the machine, pin boards were stacked in a single column to block the cutter head in place. The victim was positioned between the cutter boom and the pan with the load locking valve removed when the cutter head collapsed, fatally crushing the miner.
- Study the manufacturer’s manual for safety precautions and recommended blocking procedures BEFORE initiating repairs.
- Ensure that blocking material is competent, substantial, and adequate to support and stabilize the load. Always use the manufacturer’s safety device(s) or features for securing components against motion.
- Devise safe methods to complete tasks involving large objects, massive weights, or where the release of stored energy is a possibility. Ensure that all stored energy is released or fully controlled before initiating repairs.
- Ensure the power is off and securely block equipment against all hazardous motion at all times while performing maintenance work. Secure assemblies that rotate to prevent rotation AND sufficiently block them for support.
- DO NOT proceed until all safety concerns are adequately resolved, especially if potential hazards or prescribed procedures are unclear. Treat the system as unblocked until the blocks or jack stands are fully loaded and equipment stability has been verified.
- Never loosen hydraulic hoses or components without first determining if they are supporting something or trapping pressure.
- Ensure that there is sufficient space around equipment to enable work to be performed safely.
- Train all miners in the health and safety aspects and safe work procedures related to their assigned tasks.
This is the ninth fatality reported in calendar year 2015 in the coal mining industry and this is the third fatality classified as Machinery. As of this day in 2014, there were twelve fatalities reported in the coal mining industry. At this time in 2014, there were five fatalities in this classification.