Skip to content
PDF Version

COAL MINE FATALITY - On September 5, 2003, a 28 year-old utility man, with 10 years of mining experience, was fatally injured at a surface mine. The victim and a mechanic were located in a 992-G front-end loader bucket (not mounted on equipment). For reasons unrelated to work, the victim was using an unlit torch to introduce acetylene into an empty 55-gallon anti-freeze drum when an explosion occurred. The utility man was fatally injured while the mechanic and two other employees located approximately 8 to 10 feet away received flash burns.

Photo of Accident Scene

Best Practices

  • Require that compressed gases are used properly for their intended purpose.
  • Ensure proper handling and use of torches.
  • Train employees on dangers associated with improper use of acetylene.
  • Never attempt to transfer acetylene gas into any other container.
  • Examine contents of containers prior to cutting or welding.
  • Fill containers with water or other inert materials prior to cutting or welding to prevent the ignition of flammable/combustible material or gasses.
  • Ensure familiarity with Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) of all materials on mine property, especially the flammability and combustibility characteristics.
  • Ensure that employees do not engage in horseplay.

  • Note: This fatalgram has been revised from its originally posted version to reflect additional information obtained during the investigation.
    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 23rd fatality reported in calendar year 2003 in the coal mining industry. As of the accident date in 2002, there were 22 fatalities reported in the coal mining industry. This is the first fatality classified as an exploding vessel in 2003. There was one fatality classified as an exploding vessel at this time in 2002.

    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