Be aware, be visible near mobile equipment

THE US Mine Safety and Health Administration has again urged safety near underground mobile equipment after a worker was killed in a powered haulage incident in West Virginia on July 1.
Be aware, be visible near mobile equipment Be aware, be visible near mobile equipment Be aware, be visible near mobile equipment Be aware, be visible near mobile equipment Be aware, be visible near mobile equipment

The scene of a July 2010 fatality in West Virginia. Courtesy MSHA.

Donna Schmidt

The electrician, whose name was not released, was working at Massey Energy’s Pocahontas mine in Greenbrier County at 8.30am local time when he was run over by a shuttle car.

“The victim was last seen walking out by the face in a connecting crosscut,” the agency said.

“As the loaded shuttle car was leaving the continuous miner, the victim was discovered under the shuttle car.”

The 60-year-old victim became the 40th coal death of 2010, and the 31st in Massey operations this year.

To help prevent future incidents, MSHA compiled best practice procedures. They include:

  • Always sound the shuttle car alarm or bell when approaching and before traveling through check curtains
  • Be aware of your location in relation to movement of equipment, especially in lower coal seams
  • Wear reflective or fluorescent clothing to aid visibility when working around mobile equipment
  • Train miners to use effective means of communication between themselves and equipment operators
  • Develop and follow standard operating procedures for tramming shuttle cars
  • Ensure all personnel are clear of the traveling path and turning radius before moving equipment

Federal regulators also are urging mines to pursue new technology for hazard prevention, such as proximity detection systems. A one-source page on those systems is available on the agency’s web site.

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

The worker’s death was the third in coal in 2010 to be classified by MSHA under Powered Haulage.

The 80-worker Pocahontas operation is part of Massey Energy’s Green Valley Coal group and is operated by White Buck Coal. It is one of the company’s smallest mines, producing about 84,239 tons of coal in 2009.