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COAL MINE FATALITY - On April 27, 2003, a 42-year-old contractor mechanic, with 19 years of mining experience, was fatally injured at a surface coal mine. The victim was using a spray can of starter fluid to clean oil and coal dust off the engine mounting bolts of a front-end loader when the spray can ignited. The victim's clothes caught fire engulfing his upper body in flames. Another mechanic working nearby extinguished the flames. The victim was transported to a burn center where he died, on May 1, as a result of his injuries.

Photo of Accident Scene

Best Practices

  • Ensure that flammable fluids, liquids, or aerosols are not used to clean equipment or parts.
  • Use solvents or degreasers formulated to clean equipment or parts.
  • Ensure workers understand the hazards associated with the chemicals used at the mine and the correct applications for their use.
  • Ensure that smoking or the use of open flame is prohibited when flammable products are used.
  • Examine work areas for hazardous conditions and unsafe practices.
  • 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 12th fatality reported in calendar year 2003 in the coal mining industry. As of the accident date in 2002, there were 11 fatalities reported in the coal mining industry. This is the 4th fatality classified as ignition, or explosion of gas or dust in 2003. At this time in 2002, there were no fatalities classified as ignition, or explosion of gas or dust.

    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