cited in fatal accident at Kayenta Mine
By Cindy Yurth, Navajo Times
May 03, 2007
CHINLE - Faulty circuitry and short-cutting
safety procedures led to the Nov. 5 accident at Peabody
Western Coal Co.'s Kayenta Mine that cost a Rough Rock
man his life, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration
The final report appeared on MSHA's
Web site last week.
Peabody was issued a citation and five
orders in connection with the mishap, in which electrician
Howard Harvey Sr., 52, was electrocuted while working
on the cable to the dragline.
According to the report, Peabody has
corrected all the factors that led to the accident.
A monetary penalty has not been announced by MSHA.
Harvey was found dead by hi fellow evening-shift
electrician, Albert Dandy, at 9:10 p.m. while the men
were troubleshooting the cable.
The men had turned the power off to
work on the dragline - a machine used to remove rock
layers to get to coal seams - but the dragline crew
had become cold and turned on an auxiliary generator
to supply heat to the cab[le], the report states.
The dragline circuit backfed through
the main transformers, energizing the trailing cable
and sending 23,000 volts of electricity through Harvey's
Peabody spokesperson Beth Sutton said
the company does not agree with the report findings
as to the root cause of the accident and plans to have
further discussions with MSHA about it.
MSHA investigators cited several factors
that led to the accident:
- The circuitry on the dragline was
not equipped with a safety transfer switch, which
would have isolated the auxiliary power and prevented
- A mechanical interlock device between
the auxiliary circuit breaker and the normal power
circuit breaker was not properly installed. The interlock
should have prevented the normal and auxiliary power
circuits from being energized at the same time.
- Repeated regular inspections failed
to turn up the faults in the circuit, even though
a wiring diagram on board the dragline clearly showed
a safety transfer switch that wasn't actually there.
- The employee who turned on the auxiliary
power was not an electrician and should not have been
issued a key to the electrical switches.
- The dragline crew did not consult
Dandy and Harvey before switching on the auxiliary
power. They told MSHA inspectors they had tried to
contact the men on the two-way radio but couldn't
reach them. They did contact the electrical supervisor,
who allowed them to turn on the power but told them
to contact the electricians as soon as possible.
- Harvey locked out (isolated) the
circuit, but did not tag it (to ensure other employees
knew he was working on the circuit), or properly ground
it. Although his supervisor was on the scene he did
not ensure that the safety procedures were followed.
MSHA cited Peabody for failing to provide
a safe working environment because of the faulty circuitry
in the dragline, and ordered the company to correct
the lapses in safety procedures.
Sutton said the accident occurred because
established standards of practice were not followed,
and that the employees who were involved were disciplined
"Safety is a core value at Peabody
operations," Sutton said in a statement issued
Wednesday. "This was an isolated incident that
is a regrettable exception to the best practices that
are used at Kayenta Mine and the record of safety that
our employees have achieved."
According to the MSHA report, Peabody
management has removed the auxiliary generator from
the dragline and does not intend to replace it. A new,
numbered key system is in effect with the non-duplicatable
keys issued only to qualified electricians, and a checklist
has been written for inspectors so they will be less
likely to miss problems such as the faults in the circuitry.
Electricians have also been retrained
on proper lock-out, tag-out and ground procedures.
According to the report, the Kayenta
Mine had an exemplary safety record prior to the accident,
having lost only half a day due to accidents between
January and September 2006, compared with a national
average of a day and a half.
The last fatality at the Kayenta Mine
was in 1997 when a motor being transported on a flatbed
truck came loose and crashed into the truck's cab, crushing
The fatality rate for the Kayenta Mine
prior to the accident was 0.00 compared to a national
rate of 0.09, according to William G. Denning, accident
investigation coordinator for MSHA's Western District,
headquartered in Denver.