Tram control safety in spotlight after fatality

THE US Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued several best practices for accident prevention following the death of a worker last month at Consol Energy’s Shoemaker operation in West Virginia.
Tram control safety in spotlight after fatality Tram control safety in spotlight after fatality Tram control safety in spotlight after fatality Tram control safety in spotlight after fatality Tram control safety in spotlight after fatality

The scene of an October 2011 fatality in northern West Virginia.

Donna Schmidt

Timberman Charles McIntire, 62, was working at the surface of the underground Marshall County operation October 17 and was using a jumper cable to move a track-mounted backhoe machine at a gap in the trolley wire at the time of the incident.

“When reenergized by a jumper cable, the machine struck and ran over him,” MSHA said in its preliminary findings.

The 30-year mining veteran had just one day of experience operating the backhoe.

In hopes of preventing future similar incidents at other US operations, the agency stressed best practices including the use of self-centering tram/power controls to limited unexpected machine movement.

Also, MSHA recommends that all miners ensure tram control switches are in the off position and the brake set prior to applying a power jumper, and during placement should always attach a nip to the machine first and trolley after while standing in a safe location.

“Ensure adequate task training is provided to equipment operators which cover all machine controls, functions and hazards related to the machine operation and any safe operating procedures related to the specific equipment operation,” officials added.

MSHA encourages anyone with additional prevention ideas to submit them through its web site, including the year of the fatality and the fatality number.

McIntire’s death, the seventh in West Virginia this year, is the 17th (15th classified by officials as reportable) during the 2011 calendar year and has been classified by MSHA as a machinery accident.

It is also the second death at a Consol mine in 2011; the first occurred in February when the driver of a dozer at the nearby McElroy mine in West Virginia was trapped between his vehicle and a water truck.

Shoemaker, a longwall mine which extracts from the prolific Pittsburgh coal seam, produced 3.9 million tons last year. A $US205 million upgrade to its facilities, which included a new overland and underground conveyor system and track, was also completed in 2010.

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