Proximity detection again in spotlight after fatality

FEDERAL investigators are reiterating an urgent call for proximity detection system use following the death of a miner earlier this month in Illinois.
Proximity detection again in spotlight after fatality Proximity detection again in spotlight after fatality Proximity detection again in spotlight after fatality Proximity detection again in spotlight after fatality Proximity detection again in spotlight after fatality

The scene of a July 2013 fatal accident in Illinois

Donna Schmidt

Continuous miner operator Nathaniel Clarida, 35, an 11-year mining veteran, was killed just after 2pm on July 2 at the Wildcat Hills underground mine in Saline County when he was struck by a battery-powered coal hauler and pinned between the coal hauler and the rib.

“The victim was taking a lunch break behind a line curtain [of] the No. 4 entry and the intersection of the last open crosscut, which was in the haulage route to the continuous mining machine,” the US Mine Safety and Health Authority said in its preliminary findings released on Thursday.

In an effort to prevent such incidents at other US mines in the future, MSHA spotlighted its single source page on proximity.

Other best practices for safety operations include positioning oneself away from moving equipment and using transparent curtain for check and line curtains in active face areas.

Those operating equipment should sound audible warnings when visibility is obstructed, such as in turns and when approaching ventilation curtains.

Warnings should be louder than ambient noise underground.

Finally, investigators reminded mines to always energize lights in the direction of travel.

MSHA classified Clarida’s death as powered haulage. It is the fourth such fatality this year.

Wildcat Hills, a room and pillar drift operation located near Eldorado and operated by Peabody Energy’s Peabody Midwest subsidiary, has about 200 workers working two fishtail supersections.

It has been in production extracting from the Illinois No 6 seam since March 2006 and sold about 1.5 million tons of coal in 2012.

The fatality was the 10th in the US this year and the second in Illinois.

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