$210,000 in MSHA Fines for Wreck Caused by Brake Failure

It's not unusual to see dirty, poorly maintained watering and equipment trucks at some job sites. A West Virginia company may be paying a high price for such machinery, however, and an employee of the firm is now permanently disabled as a result, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration. MSHA has proposed $165,000 in civil penalties against Bresee Trucking and $45,000 against Guest Mountain Mining Corp. from an accident on July 31, 2008, that left a contract truck driver permanently disabled. Both companies are based in Wise County, Va.

"Federal law states that every miner is required -- and entitled -- to receive the necessary training to perform his job safely and correctly," said Richard Stickler, acting assistant secretary of Labor for mine safety and health. "Due to inadequate training and faulty equipment, a miner has been seriously injured. The mine operator and contractor must be held accountable for their violation of the law."

MSHA said the driver, who was employed by Bresee, was watering a main haul road from a water truck. As he descended a steep grade, the driver missed a gear and accelerated downhill in neutral. "He was unable to slow the truck due to a brake system malfunction. The truck left the road, crossed a ditch and decelerated rapidly in drainage sumps, causing the water tank to detach from the truck frame and slide onto the cab," the agency said. "MSHA's accident investigators examined the brake system and discovered missing components and significant air leaks. Bresee Trucking was cited for failing to provide task training and hazard training to the driver, as well as failing to have adequate brakes equipped on its mobile equipment. The mine operator was cited for failure to provide hazard training."

So far this year, MSHA has issued $162 million in civil penalties with 170,000 citations.

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