MSHA releases preliminary fatality data for first quarter of 2015

Ten miners die in first quarter of year

ARLINGTON, Va. – In the mining industry, death doesn’t discriminate between young and old. In February 2014, 24-year-old Arthur Gelentser III died after he was crushed by a continuous mining machine in an underground Virginia coal mine. In November of that year, 67-year-old James Crane was killed when his dump truck tumbled backward 30 feet off an embankment at a sandstone mine in Pennsylvania.

In both cases, investigators found the incidents could have been prevented if safety procedures were followed. Little solace for the family and friends of Gelentser, a husband and father of two, or Crane, whose wife and three daughters share the same fate as the loved ones of seven other truck drivers who died in metal and nonmetal accidents in 2014. 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration today released its summary of U.S. mining deaths in the first quarter of 2015. From Jan. 1 to March 31, 10 miners died in accidents in the U.S. mining industry. Four were killed in coal mining accidents and six in metal and nonmetal mining accidents. 

“The fatalities in 2014 – historic lows in coal fatalities amid increases in metal and nonmetal deaths – remind us all of the progress we’ve made and the work ahead of us,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “Zero annual fatalities are absolutely possible. It is a goal we pursue daily. Going forward, MSHA is determined to make mines safer and healthier places to work, so miners can work and then return home safe and healthy after each shift. We owe our miners that much.”

Brief descriptions of the 10 mining deaths that occurred in the first quarter of 2015 follow:

Coal Mine Fatal Accidents

43-year-old continuous mining machine operator was killed when he was pinned between the conveyor boom of a remote-controlled continuous mining machine and a coal rib. The victim was operating the continuous mining machine from a remote position in the entry and was preparing for the next mining cycle when the accident occurred. 

29-year-old roof bolter helper died when a piece of rock accidently fell and pinned him against the top of the drill canopy on a roof-bolting machine. The machine was in position to install a row of permanent supports when the accident occurred.

45-year-old assistant longwall coordinator was killed while working on a longwall section. The victim was shoveling loose material between the longwall face and the pan line when a large piece of rock hit him as it fell from above.

34-year-old section foreman died when a coal/rock rib fell and pinned him against the side of a shuttle car.

Metal and Nonmetal Mine Fatal Accidents

57-year-old miner was operating an excavator near a ditch when the excavator tipped on its side and went in the water. The miner was removed from the cab and transported to a hospital, where he died. 

48-year-old miner was operating a walk-behind masonry saw when he tripped and fell. The victim fell off a 4½ foot ledge, and the masonry saw landed on top of him. 

63-year-old contractor was severely injured while installing new screen panels (devices used to separate material into different sizes). The feeder bin that the material was placed in pivoted, pinning the miner between the bin and the rear support beam of the deck holding the screen panels. The victim was transported to a hospital where he later died.

44-year-old truck driver was operating a loaded articulated haul truck on an elevated road adjacent to a dredge pond. After traveling about 125 yards from the loading point, the haul truck drifted into the water. The victim was eventually removed from the truck, taken to a hospital and then a trauma center, but died two days later. 

53-year-old miner was on a work platform on top of a skip (a conveyance that transports ore from underground to the surface) traveling up the ventilation shaft when he struck a cross member, or strut, used to reinforce the walls of the mining shaft.

54-year-old miner was operating a mechanical scaler to extract loose material in an intersection when a roof fall occurred and covered the machine.

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Media Contact:
Amy Louviere, 202-693-9423,
Release Number: 15-814-NAT