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COAL MINE FATALITY - On Monday, October 7, 2002, a 31 year old miner was fatally injured by the fall of a single rock/clay mass from loose unconsolidated material located above the highwall at a surface coal mine. Rainfall had occurred during the early morning hours and was reported to have been heavy for a short period just prior to the start of the 6:00 am shift. The miner, employed as a 'coal scrapper', was hand shoveling raw coal from the base of the highwall in preparation for scooping the coal with a small skid steer loader, which he operated. The miner was not wearing a hard hat, although one was available in the loader.

Photo of Accident Scene

Best Practices

  • Design mining methods and associated work practices to minimize the exposure hazard to miners working near highwalls.
  • Remove loose, hazardous material located above active workings prior to any work.
  • Examine highwalls and work areas thoroughly for hazardous conditions, especially after rainfall.
  • Thoroughly train and supervise personnel in the required use of personal protective equipment.
  • 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 was the 23rd fatal accident reported in calendar year 2002 in the coal mining industry. As of this date in 2001, there were 33 fatalities reported in the coal mining industry. This was the first fatal accident classified as a falling rock/material in 2002. At this time in 2001, there was one fatal accident classified as falling rock/material in the coal mining industry.

    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