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COAL MINE FATALITY - - On Monday, April 5, 2010, 29 miners were fatally injured and 2 miners received serious injuries when an explosion occurred in a large underground coal mine. The victims were located in different areas of the mine, some on their way out of the mine and others were involved with mining activities.

Photo of Accident Scene Described in the Paragraph Above

Best Practices

The following best practices are generally applicable to underground mining. An investigation is ongoing at Upper Big Branch which will determine the root cause(s) of the explosion on April 5, 2010.
  • EFFECTIVE VENTILATION SYSTEM - Properly design, frequently examine, and properly maintain a ventilation system that is effective at all times for all areas of the mine. This is the first line of defense against an explosion. Maintain proper air quality in bleeders for examiners.
  • ADEQUATE ROCK DUST - Apply rock dust liberally, even in wet areas, in all faces and outby areas. Maintain the applications to prevent the propagation of coal dust explosions.
  • PROPER EXAMINATIONS and IMMEDIATE CORRECTIVE ACTIONS - Conduct proper pre-shift, on-shift, supplemental, and electrical examinations. Immediately eliminate hazards involving inadequate ventilation, insufficient rock dust, methane accumulations, and permissibility violations.
  • METHANE AND OXYGEN CHECKS - Make frequent methane and oxygen measurements, especially during periods of rapid decline in barometric pressure.
  • COMBUSTIBLE MATERIAL - Clean up loose coal, coal dust, and other combustible material. The possibility of an explosion or fire can be diminished by reducing the fuel supply.
  • WATER SPRAYS and DUST COLLECTORS - Water sprays and dust collectors reduce the fuel available for a potential fire or explosion.
  • ESCAPEWAYS - Conduct escapeway drills and maintain escapeways in safe condition and assure that lifelines are being maintained.
  • ATMOSPHERIC MONITORING SYSTEMS (AMS) - Utilize AMS to monitor strategic locations for carbon monoxide, oxygen content, methane content, and air volumes.

  • 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.

    These fatalities are the third through thirty-first fatalities reported during calendar year 2010 in the coal mining industry. At this time last year, there were five fatalities reported in the coal mining industry. These fatalities are the first fatalities resulting from an Ignition or Explosion of Gas or Dust in 2010. At this time in 2009, there were no fatalities in this classification.

    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 - Not Available Yet