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District 8 - Coal Mine Safety and Health
Info-Grams and Close Call Accidents

Close Call Graphic
Department of Labor
Mine Safety and Health Administration

Accident Info-Gram
March 2003

Mobile equipment operator fell approximately 20-feet into a cavity

On March 10, 2003, at about 10:20 p.m., a serious fall-of-person accident occurred at a surface mine in District 8. A mobile equipment operator fell approximately 20-feet into a cavity in the spoiled material of the pit. The equipment operator arrived at the mine before the start of his shift. He was going to discard some trash into a void in the spoil area. After backing his pickup truck into position with the truck's tailgate over the edge of the cavity, the equipment operator got into the bed of his pickup truck to unload the trash. While unloading, the equipment operator lost his footing and fell into the cavity. The pre-bench bulldozer operator saw a light flashing in the area of the cavity. He notified the pit-area bulldozer operator to investigate the flashing light. The pit-area bulldozer operator discovered that the injured equipment operator had fallen into the cavity and was signaling with a penlight. After the victim was extracted from the cavity, he was air lifted to a trauma center in a nearby city. The lights on the pickup were off at the time of the accident. The bulldozer's next run was going to be to fill this cavity. Injuries suffered by the victim included a punctured and bruised lung and a bruised liver.

Top of Cavity


  • Dump trash only in designated areas.
  • Communicate with mine personnel that are in the area before entering hazardous areas.
  • Leave vehicle lights turned on when in working areas.
  • Examine all areas immediately before performing work in those areas.

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This file was last updated on 4/2/2003

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.