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METAL/NONMETAL MINE FATALITY - On March 20, 2001, a 38-year-old foreman with 11 years mining experience was fatally injured at a limestone operation. The victim had placed a lit, hand held propane torch inside an enclosed weigh scale sump to thaw an accumulation of ice. After covering the scale with a tarp to retain the heat, he left to find a second torch. When he returned to the scale, he lit the second torch which subsequently ignited an explosive mixture of gases in the scale sump.

Photo of accident scene

Best Practices

  • Open flame heating devices should not be left unattended.
  • Devices with open flame should not be used in confined spaces where oxygen could become depleted.
  • Tests for explosive gases should be conducted prior to using any possible ignition source in a confined space.
  • More Information E-mail Suggestion for Accident Prevention Program Submit your own suggestion for a remedy to prevent this type of accident in the future.
    Please specify if you wish your submission to be anonymous or whether your name may be used. Please include the year of the fatality and the fatality number.

    This is the fifth fatality reported in calendar year 2001 in the metal and nonmetal mining industries. As of this date in 2000, there were nine fatalities reported in these industries. This is the first fatality classified as Ignition/Explosion of Gas or Dust in 2001. There were no Ignition/Explosion of Gas or Dust fatalities in the same period in 2000.

    The information provided in this notice is based on preliminary data ONLY and does not represent final determinations regarding the nature of the incident or conclusions regarding the cause of the fatality.

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