MSHA Fatality #14

On Wednesday, August 7, 2019, a 42-year-old preparation plant electrician with 15 years of mining experience was electrocuted when he contacted an energized connection of a 4,160 VAC electrical circuit.  The victim was in the plant’s Motor Control Center (MCC) adjusting the linkage between the disconnect lever and the internal components of the 4,160 VAC panel supplying power to the plant feed belt motors.

Accident scene where the victim was electricuted
Best Practices:
  • Lock Out and Tag Out the electrical circuit yourself and NEVER rely on others to do this for you.
  • Control Hazardous Energy!  Design and arrange MCCs so electrical equipment can be serviced without hazards.  Install and maintain a main disconnecting means located at a readily accessible point capable of disconnecting all ungrounded conductors from the circuit to safely service the equipment.
  • Install warning labels on line side terminals of circuit breakers and switches indicating that the terminal lugs remain energized when the circuit breaker or switch is open.
  • Before performing troubleshooting or electrical type work, develop a plan, communicate and discuss the plan with qualified electricians to ensure the task can be completed without creating hazardous situations.
  • Follow these steps BEFORE entering an electrical enclosure or performing electrical work:
  1. Locate the circuit breaker or load break switch away from the enclosure and open it to de-energize the incoming power cable(s) or conductors.
  2. Locate the visual disconnect away from the enclosure and open it to provide visual evidence that the incoming power cable(s) or conductors have been de-energized.
  3. Lock-out and tag-out the visual disconnect.
  4. Ground the de-energized conductors.
  • Wear properly rated and maintained electrical gloves when troubleshooting or testing energized circuits.
  • Focus on the task at hand and ensure safe work practices to complete the service.  A second qualified electrician should double check to ensure you have followed all necessary safety precautions.
  • Use properly rated electrical meters and non-contact voltage testers to ensure electrical circuits have been de-energized.
Additional Information:

This is the 14th MSHA fatality reported in calendar year 2019.  As of this date in 2018, there were 12 MSHA fatalities reported.  This is the first Electrical accident classification fatality in 2019.  There was one fatality in this classification in 2018.

MSHA Fatality #13

On Friday, August 2, 2019, a 39-year old contract equipment operator, with 16 years of experience, was killed while descending the main haul road in a fuel/lube truck.  The victim radioed that the truck’s brakes did not work and after traveling approximately one mile down a 7% grade, struck a runaway truck ramp’s berm causing it to overturn. The victim was not wearing a seatbelt.

scene vihicle struck a runaway truck ramp’s berm causing it to overturn
Best Practices:
  1. Always wear seat belts when operating mobile equipment.
  2. Maintain control and stay alert when operating mobile equipment.
  3. Conduct adequate pre-operational checks and correct any defects affecting safety in a timely manner prior to operating mobile equipment.
  4. Promptly remove equipment from service if defects affecting safety are found.  Never rely on engine brakes and transmission retarders as substitutes for keeping brakes properly maintained.
  5. Operate mobile equipment at speeds consistent with the conditions of roadways, tracks, grades, clearance, visibility, curves, and traffic.
  6. Ensure that berms are adequate for the vehicles present on site.  Runaway truck ramps should be constructed to accommodate out of control mobile equipment traveling at a high rate of speed.  The length, width, grade, and approach to the runaway truck ramp should be sufficient for the mobile equipment used on the haul road.
Additional Information:

This is the 13th MSHA fatality reported in calendar year 2019. As of this date in 2018, there were 12 MSHA fatalities reported. This is the fifth powered haulage accident classification fatality in 2019. There was seven powered haulage accident classification fatalities during the same period in 2018.

MSHA Fatality #12

On Wednesday, July 31, 2019, a 62-year-old contractor with 30 years of mining experience sustained fatal injuries when three methane ignitions occurred in an air shaft.  The victim and three contractors were preparing to seal the intake air shaft of an underground mine.  At the time of the ignitions, the victim was trimming metal so that it would fit inside wooden forms and was in direct line of the ignition forces.

scene of the accident where the fatality occured
Best Practices:
  • Do not use cutting torches near unventilated air shafts.  Allow no sparking or hot metal from grinding or torching to drop into an air shaft opening.  Install non-combustible barriers below welding, cutting, or soldering operations in or over a shaft.
  • Conduct proper examinations for methane immediately before and during welding, cutting, soldering or using any spark causing tool (grinder, drills, etc.), especially in areas likely to contain methane.  At an air shaft, monitor for methane continuously, at appropriate levels, including the bottom of the air shaft.
  • Use properly calibrated methane detectors that can detect concentrations greater than 5%.
  • Be aware of potential hazards when working around a shaft opening. Take additional safety precautions when the barometric pressure changes.
  • Continuously ventilate an air shaft until the last moment before pouring concrete to seal the shaft.
  • Make sure all employees are tied off while working around the shaft opening.
  • Provide adequate training on the characteristics of mine gases and in the use of handheld gas detectors, including the use of extendable probes or pumps.
Additional Information:

This is the 12th MSHA fatality reported in calendar year 2019.  As of this date in 2018, there were 12 MSHA fatalities reported.  This is the first Ignition or Explosion of Gas or Dust accident classification fatality in 2019.  There was one fatality in this classification in 2018.