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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

Fall-of-Persons at Shaft

Shaft TopA serious fall-of-person accident occurred on October 27, 2001, at a mine in District 8. The victim was a welder employed by an independent contractor who was reinforcing the cage and counterweight structure at the mine's man-and-material intake airshaft. Immediately prior to the accident, the welder had positioned himself inside the cage to weld on a vertical corner brace. After completing his work on the inside of the cage, he disconnected his lanyard to reposition himself to the outside of the corner brace. While moving to the outside of the cage, he fell before he had reconnected his safety lanyard. This caused him to fall back against the concrete shaft collar and then into the airshaft. He landed on the counterweight guide and shaft brace structure approximately ten feet below the shaft collar. He was found holding onto the counterweight guide with his arms with his body extending down the shaft by one of his two coworkers.
      The first coworker summoned help while the second coworker tied himself off with his safety belt and a one-inch rope. The first coworker and four mine employees then lowered the second coworker into the shaft. The second coworker secured the victim by tying a rope to his harness and upper torso. The miners then pulled the victim out of the shaft by the attached rope. First aid was administered and the victim was transported to a local hospital and then airlifted to another medical center for surgery. The victim suffered a broken left femur, and abrasions and contusions to the right side of his body. Total recovery time of the accident victim was about 33 minutes.
Shaft Diagram

  • Always use safety harnesses with two lanyards. When changing positions, secure the second lanyard before disconnecting the first.
  • Plan repositioning moves ahead of time to eliminate the need for disconnecting lanyards.
  • An additional tie-off should be used when working from suspended structures.

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This file was last updated on 12/13/2001

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.