Lack of focus on 'red zones' caused death: MSHA

MANAGEMENT failure to implement safety plans for issues such as pinch points contributed to the death of one Illinois miner last October, according to a newly released US Mine Safety and Health Administration report.
Lack of focus on 'red zones' caused death: MSHA Lack of focus on 'red zones' caused death: MSHA Lack of focus on 'red zones' caused death: MSHA Lack of focus on 'red zones' caused death: MSHA Lack of focus on 'red zones' caused death: MSHA

The Pattiki mine, Indiana.

Donna Schmidt

Continuous miner helper Timothy Adamson, 45, was killed October 26, 2008, when he was crushed between a remote-control CM and the rib at White County Coal’s Pattiki operation.

“Based upon the physical evidence observed at the scene and statements obtained during interviews, it is the consensus of the accident investigation team that Adamson was backing the continuous mining machine away from the face of the No. 9 entry … when he was pinned between the machine's cable standoff and the right coal rib,” the report said, noting that there were no eyewitnesses to the incident.

Federal officials concluded that the operator had failed to implement the safety precautions outlined in the mine’s roof control plan.

“These safety precautions were designed to ensure that miners do not enter dangerous areas that present pinch hazards, such as the ‘red zones’, established around remote-controlled mining machines.”

As a corrective action, MSHA ordered the operation to submit revisions of its RCP and follow through with implementing the amendments, including the reinstruction of red zone procedures for all employees.

The agency also instructed that the CM’s pump motor be deenergised before a worker steps into the unit’s red zone; that no worker shall enter the red zone during tramming or repositioning; and that a clearly visible strobe or flashing warning light be maintained on the machine.

“In addition, the mine operator submitted a letter stating that Pattiki mine will begin installing proximity devices on continuous miners, once the devices have been approved and the technology has been proven effective,” MSHA noted.

Pattiki, located in White County, extracts from the Herrin No. 6 seam with a total of seven advancing mechanised mining units using CMs at an average of 60 inches to produce an average 16,000 tons daily.

The mine employs 303 workers. MSHA said a regular federal health and safety inspection was ongoing at the time of the incident, but that the non-fatal days lost rate for the mine in 2008 was 3.86 versus a national 4.44 average.