District 5 - Coal Mine Safety and Health
A Near Miss
On Friday, July 19, 2002, at approximately 10:00 a.m., a 29 year-old heavy equipment operator with nine (9) years of experience was involved in a potentially life threatening accident. The operator was taking the machine to a surface mine site when the blade impacted a power pole along a haulage road. The power line on the pole was carrying 13,000 volts. The road at the accident site had a 6 percent grade and was 21.5 feet in width. The width of the blade was 22 feet. After the machine hit the power pole, the operator raised the blade keeping the high voltage lines from contacting the cab and the ground. The upper 8 feet of the power pole caught fire and burned for a period of about one hour. A certified electrician disconnected the power to the lines and the heavy equipment operator was able to dismount the machine without any injury.
- Stay in control of your machine at all times.
- Always look in the direction of travel.
- Be aware of grades and road conditions, especially clearances.
- If your equipment contacts a power line, stay in the cab, until it can be verified that the power is de-energized. Even when it appears that power is off, a utility company power line circuit will normally energize three times to clear a fault. Electrocution could occur when dismounting the equipment.
- If your equipment contacts a power line, do not allow anyone to come in the vicinity of the equipment. Electrocution could occur in proximity to the machine without touching it.