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COAL MINE FATALITY - On Friday, October 28, 2011, a 47-year old lead blaster and 23-year old blaster helper were killed when the 1-ton truck they were riding was struck and completely covered by fallen rock from a failed highwall. The victims were driving in the pit, past a trackhoe loading coal as they approached their work area. The rock reached approximately 80' across the 100' wide pit and struck the trackhoe and a haulage vehicle being loaded at the time of the accident.

Photo of Accident Scene

Best Practices
  • Train all miners to recognize hazardous highwall conditions.
  • Look, Listen and Evaluate your highwall and pit conditions daily, especially after each rain, freeze, or thaw.
  • Be your own examiner and find hazards before they find you.
  • Maintain adequate lighting to aid in examinations of highwalls and pit during no light or low light situations.
  • Observe and communicate highwall hazards immediately.
  • Insure appropriate action is taken to remove the hazards associated with any anomaly that may appear in the highwall or pit.
  • Ensure that personnel's work or travel areas and mining systems or equipment are operating are a safe distance from the toe of the highwall.
  • Follow safe job procedures.

  • 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 18th and 19th fatalities reported in calendar year 2011 in the coal mining industry. As of this date in 2010 there were 46 fatalities reported in the coal mining industry. This is the first fatality classified as Fall of Highwall in 2011. At this time in 2010, 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