MSHA focuses on surface equipment safety

FOLLOWING the death of a surface miner earlier this month in West Virginia, the US Mine Safety and Health Administration has compiled the best practices to prevent similar incidents.
MSHA focuses on surface equipment safety MSHA focuses on surface equipment safety MSHA focuses on surface equipment safety MSHA focuses on surface equipment safety MSHA focuses on surface equipment safety

The scene of a December coal truck fatality in West Virginia.

Donna Schmidt

Charlie Qualls, who was operating a coal truck for contractor Medford Trucking, was fatally injured after his vehicle overturned December 4 at Massey Energy’s Republic Energy operation. Republic is operated by Elk Run Coal.

“The runaway truck overturned on the haul road and the driver was extricated from the cab by the local fire department,” MSHA spokesperson Amy Louviere said shortly after the accident.

“Federal investigators indicated that faulty brakes may have played a role, as well as icy road conditions.”

The 32-year-old worker had four years of experience.

To aid in the prevention of future similar incidents, the agency stressed that all mines should construct roadway berms to appropriate strengths and geometries, and train all employees on proper work procedures, hazard recognition and avoidance.

Drivers, meanwhile, must know the truck’s capabilities, operating ranges and load limits, and keep brakes and other safety features properly maintained. They should also observe all speed limits and traffic rules, wear a safety belt at all times, and always select the proper gear for downshifting in advance of a grade descent.

MSHA also reminded mines to routinely monitor work habits and examine work areas to ensure safe procedures are being followed, and workers to never attempt to exit or jump from a moving vehicle.

The agency has developed a safety program targeting surface equipment operation for coal mines. A one-source page with tips and regulations guidance is available on its web site.

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

Quall’s death was the 48th fatality in US coal mining in 2010. It was the ninth in the nation to be classified by MSHA under Powered Haulage.

The Republic surface mine in Scarbro, Fayette County, employs 240 workers.