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COAL MINE FATALITY - On Tuesday, March 18, 1997, in Southern West Virginia, a coal haulage truck driver was fatally injured when his machine came in contact with a high voltage electrical supply line. The Driver was enroute from the mine with a load of coal, driving a 1989 coal truck. After driving about 0.3 of a mile on the mine haul road, and just after passing an empty truck at a passing point, the driver stopped in the middle of the road and exited the truck. He then apparently actuated the spring operated tarping rack mechanism, which allows the tarp to be distributed over the coal in the trailer. As the aluminum framework, which distributes the tarping material was projected upward, contact was made with one phase of the overhead 23,000 volt power line, which crossed the haul road at that point. The truck driver was electrocuted.

Photograph 1 - Truck Involved in Fatal Accident of March 18, 1997

This is the fifth coal mine fatality in 1997. As of March 18 last year, there had been 9 fatalities. This death is the first classified as ELECTRICAL in 1997.

A similar accident also occurred in Virginia on February 27, 1997, when a truck driver operating a tractor trailer coal haulage truck stopped along the mine haulage road to examine the truck's fuel line. After exiting the truck, the driver remembered that the tarp had not been installed over the load. The driver engaged the automatic tarping mechanism and as the frame of the device traveled upward it contacted one phase of a 12,470 volt power line which was installed alongside the road. The driver received a serious electrical shock, however, he survived the accident.

Photograph 2 - Truck Involved in Non-Fatal Accident of February 27, 1997

For more information:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon MSHA's Fatal Accident Investigation Report [FTL97C05]