Department of Labor
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Near Miss Fall-of-Highwall
On December 12, 2005 at approximately 2:00 a.m., a non-injury fall-of-highwall incident
occurred at a surface coal mine in District 8. Earlier that day, a Superior Highwall-miner was
mining on the west side of pit No. 2 when unstable highwall conditions were encountered. The
Highwall-miner was moved from the west side to the east side of the pit and parked. In an
attempt to correct the unstable highwall condition, a Komatsu 1250 track-hoe was used to
scale the highwall. This was done on the day shift and most of the night shift. The track-hoe
was removed from the pit at approximately midnight.
At approximately 2:00 a.m. the night shift foreman, accompanied by a mobile
equipment operator, drove a pickup truck into the pit to shut off the lights on the Highwallminer.
They parked the pickup beside the Highwall-miner and stepped onto the lower walkway
when the highwall directly across the pit from the Highwall-miner fell . The material from the
highwall traveled across the pit and struck the pickup, pushing it approximately 20 feet
The highwall was approximately 80 feet high and the pit width was approximately 150
feet wide in this area.
The pickup truck sustained damage to its right side, and 23 auger beam assemblies,
which connect behind the Highwall-miner head and convey the coal to the outside Highwallminer
conveyor belt, were damaged.
- Be aware of changing highwall conditions and develop mining methods that address
- Train examiners to recognize adverse conditions and environmental factors that can
- Design mining systems that ensure miner's work or travel areas are always a safe distance
from the toe of the highwall.
- Use mining methods that ensure highwall stability and safe working conditions.
- Bench highwall to protect persons working near highwall or highwall mining machines.
This information was provided by concerned
miners in an effort to eliminate accidents. Accident or "close
call" information within District 8 may be shared by contacting
the MSHA office at (812) 882-7617.