On October 16 at the company’s Bear Canyon mine in Huntington, the miner was injured when the personnel carrier he was operating had a brake failure and rolled over a steep grade.
According to the agency, the driver purposely steered the unit into the mountainside to bring it to a stop, and a later investigation found that the rear brake linings were completely worn and the front braking system had a brake fluid leak.
MSHA handed down to Hiawatha Coal unwarrantable failure orders for the mine’s failure to equip the personnel carrier with adequate brakes and for not correcting the unit’s defects.
It also issued regular moderate negligence citations to the mine for a lack of warning signs along the road, a failure to inspect and record safety-related defects, and to the worker for not maintaining control of the vehicle or operating it at a safe speed.
“It is inexcusable that a mine operator would allow such obvious defects to go unaddressed, and the outcome could have been even worse,” said MSHA deputy assistant secretary for operating Michael Davis.
The mine told the Associated Press Tuesday that it would fight the assessed violations.
“We would definitely appeal if they’re proposing fines that high,” mine manager Charles Reynolds said.
In January, the mine was hit with a $265,000 federal fine for violations related to a December 12, 2007, incident that killed one contract truck driver.
Both CW Mining and Trimac Transportation Service were fined for contributory issues related to the death of a worker who was crushed between a front-end loader and a haul truck as he secured a tow chain to the haul truck.
According to an investigation by MSHA, the parking brake on the loader did not set correctly because of frozen moisture in the machine’s air reservoirs.
“Had the front-end loader been properly inspected prior to its operation, the miner might still be alive,” said then-MSHA head Richard Stickler.
“It is imperative that equipment operators be trained on proper maintenance procedures, especially during inclement weather.”
In total, the agency assessed four contributory violations to CW and one to Trimac, with fines totalling $US215,000 and $US50,000, respectively. A fifth and final contributory citation to Trimac was for failure to provide site-specific hazard training to the victim.
CW Mining no longer owns the Bear Canyon No. 4 operation. It was transferred to Hiawatha Coal in July 2008 under the controller name of Elliot Finley.