The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration issued two citations against Owlco Energy LLC over an Oct. 7, 2011, fatal accident at the company’s Mine No. 1 in Letcher County, Ky.
In a final accident report released March 1, MSHA said the accident occurred when a piece of mined roof rock used to support the raised Jeffrey Model 506 mobile bridge conveyor became dislodged, causing the bridge conveyor to fall and strike the victim. The victim was pinned between the mobile bridge conveyor and the mine floor, causing fatal injuries.
Mine No. 1 is an underground coal mine owned and operated by Owlco Energy. The mine at the time of the accident was working in the 36-60-inch Owl coal seam. The mine is accessed by four drift openings and employs 16 miners. The mine had at the time of the accident a single working section with an average production of 300 tons per day. Coal is extracted from the faces by a continuous mining machine and transported by bridge carrier and belt conveyors to the surface.
Prior to the accident, MSHA completed the last regular safety and health inspection (E01) at the mine in August 2011. At the time of the accident, an E01 inspection event was ongoing, although an MSHA inspector was not present at the time of the accident. The Non-Fatal Days Lost (NFDL) injury incidence rate for this mine through the second quarter of 2011 was 0.00, compared to a National NFDL rate of 3.21.
A citation was issued to Owlco Energy for an “unwarrantable failure” by allowing a miner to work under a mobile bridge conveyor that was raised but was not securely blocked in position. Another citation was issued against the company for failing to ensure that miners received maintenance/repairman task training.
The MSHA database shows that Owlco Energy is controlled by Curtis Laws and that its Mine No. 1 is currently active, with production of 81,452 tons in 2011 and 82,985 tons in 2010.
The Owlco Energy accident was fatality number 16 for 2011 in the U.S. coal industry, with the year 2011 ending at 23 fatalities.
As of March 5, the coal fatality total in the U.S. stood at three. The MSHA website said the third fatality for 2011 came on March 5 at the Timber Tree #9 deep mine in Kentucky of Parton Brothers Contracting Inc. The fatality was due to handling of materials, but MSHA website had no other information on the accident. The MSHA database shows that Timber Tree #9, located in Harlan County, was “nonproducing” as of March 5 and had turned out 78,411 tons in 2011.