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COAL MINE FATALITY - On September 9, 2003, a 36-year old utility person with 4 years of mining experience was fatally injured at a surface coal mine. The victim and a co-worker were using two pick-up trucks to assist moving the power cable for an electric shovel that was being repositioned. One of the trucks lost traction in a muddy area and a nylon tow rope was attached to a hook on the truck's front end. The toe rope was then attached to a hook on the back of the second pick-up. On the first attempt to pull the truck, the metal hook broke loose from the hitch of the front truck, pierced the windshield of the rear truck and struck the victim's head.

Photo of Accident Scene  Photo of Accident Scene

Best Practices

  • Use only tested and approved mechanisms for pulling or towing.
  • Obtain approval of manufacturer for modifications to original towing equipment.
  • Ensure employees are properly instructed on proper towing practices.
  • Ensure vehicles have sufficient traction for surface conditions.
  • Conduct audits (observations) of specific tasks to ensure proper techniques are employed and tools/materials are maintained.
  • Never exceed the rated capacity of a tow vehicle or towing equipment.
  • Use hands-on training specific to the individual task.
  • Communicate & prepare pre-task check of materials and techniques for every application.
  • 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 24th 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 seventh fatality classified as powered haulage in 2003. There were seven fatalities classified as powered haulage 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