WASHINGTON, D.C. — The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has released a report in connection with a fatal mining accident that happened in Raleigh County on Feb. 7.
The accident claimed the life of Affinity Coal Company scoop operator Edward Finney. The 43-year-old Finney was crushed by the scoop after the equipment had been lifted off the mine floor by 30-ton service hoist at the Affinity Mine near Sophia.
Finney and two other workers were removing trash from a section of the underground mine by loading it into the scoop and then Finney would dump the scoop onto the hoist platform, which would take the trash to the surface.
MSHA’s report said the gate safety switch on the hoist had been tampered with before the accident allowing the hoist to operate even when the gate was open.
MSHA said the automatic hoist had a ‘return to home’ feature that would operate if the gate switch was tampered with. The feature had the hoist return to the mine surface after five minutes without operator input.
One of Finney’s coworkers told investigators he yelled for Finney to get out of the scoop’s cab when he saw the hoist lift the equipment off the ground.
“He stated that Finney appeared to be falling, head first, to the mine floor about the same time the scoop bucket slipped off the hoist deck and fell to the ground, which created a lot of dust, making it difficult to see clearly,” the report said. ”(The worker) immediately ran to check Finney’s condition and found him to be unresponsive, as he was located underneath the operator’s deck of the scoop.”
MSHA issued three safeguard orders and a citation against Affinity Coal in connection with the accident.
Affinity Coal was also named in MSHA’s July inspections. The company was named in 13 citations, 10 unwarrantable failure orders and one imminent danger order.
The imminent danger order was issued when a foreman was seen riding as a passenger in the bucket of a rubber-tired scoop in a wet, rough and uneven entry.