Fatalgram Reminds Mine Electricians of LOTO Good Practices

Posted March 30, it stems from the March 23 death of a coal mine shuttle car operator at an Alabama mine.

A new fatalgram from MSHA reminds mining industry electricians about proper lockout/tagout procedures. It stems from the March 23, 2012, electrocution of a 37-year-old coal mine electrician who was making the final electrical connections for a replacement cable reel when he contacted the energized, 995-volt leads of a shuttle car's trailing cable, according to the agency.

Ken Ward Jr. reported on The Charleston Gazette's Coal Tattoo blog that the victim was Harold Ennis, a shuttle car operator at the Drummond Company's Shoal Creek Mine, which the company's website describes as an underground mine operation spreading across three counties, with the main portal located about 45 miles from Birmingham, Ala. It is the largest coal mine in Alabama, according to the company.

The fatalgram reminds coal mine electrical personnel to:

  • Develop a hazard analysis work plan before conducting repairs.
  • Always lock and tag out electrical equipment prior to electrical work.
  • Perform your own lockout/tagout procedure. Never rely on others to de-energize or disconnect a circuit for you.
  • Use proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all electrical work.
  • Ensure that all electrical circuits and circuit breakers are identified properly before troubleshooting or performing electrical work.
  • Use properly rated non-contact voltage testers to ensure that circuits are de-energized.
  • Eliminate personal distractions when working on equipment.

MSHA reported this death was the sixth fatality in calendar year 2012 in the coal mining industry, three times more than as of March 30, 2011. It is the first fatality classified as an electrical accident in 2012; at the same point in 2011, no electrical fatalities had been recorded.

More information related to lockout/tagout in coal mining is available at this MSHA website.

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