COAL MINE FATALITY - On Wednesday, March 30, 2017, at 2:09 am, a 33-year-old miner (auger operator/foreman) was fatally injured at a surface auger mine. The miner was struck by a rock that fell from the bottom section of the highwall while changing worn cutter-head bits located at the front of the auger machine. The rock was approximately 4 feet by 5 feet by 30 inches in size.
- Follow the approved ground control plan at all times to ensure the safe control of highwalls.
- Ensure that miners at all times work, travel, and operate mining systems/equipment at a safe distance from the toe of the highwall.
- Position and reposition the auger machine canopy as needed to protect miners near the toe of a highwall from falling material.
- Assign a spotter during maintenance or other activities to evaluate the ground conditions when miners are positioned near the toe of the highwall.
- Miners should not work or position themselves between equipment and the highwall in such a manner that the equipment hinders escape from falls or slides.
- Safely examine a highwall from as many perspectives as possible (bottom, sides, and top) before work begins. Use adequate lighting during non-daylight hours to conduct examinations and to illuminate work areas.
- Conduct additional examinations as necessary, especially during periods of changing weather conditions.
- Examine areas at the back of the top and the face of the highwall for hazards presented by cracks, sloughing, loose ground, and large rocks.
- Observe and notify miners of highwall hazards immediately. Remove highwall hazards or barricade hazardous areas to keep miners away.
- Train all miners to recognize hazardous highwall conditions.
This is the fourth fatality reported in 2017 in the coal mining industry and it is classified as fall of face/rib/side/highwall. As of this date in 2016, four fatalities were reported, with two in this classification.