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Haul truck fire | Driver dies from burns

haul truck fire
A driver died from complications after he was burned in a haul truck fire

Back in early September at a Peabody USA operation, a haul truck driver on night shift died after receiving extensive burns while exiting a haul truck on fire.

According to reports from the US Mine Safety Regulator (MSHA) Robert Grostefon, a 60 year old haul truck operator (with a around 65 weeks experience on the job) was transporting spoil to a dump site at 3.44am at the Peabody Bear Run mine when a Dozer operator saw fire on the truck.

The Dozer operator alerted the haul truck driver and he stopped the truck. While exiting the truck, the haul truck driver received burns and he was taken to the hospital.

Sullivan County Sheriff Clark Cottom,  said that the incident was reported to Sullivan County 911 Dispatch around 3:50 a.m. Sept. 7. They were told a hauler for Bear Run Coal Mine had caught fire. “The initial report of a piece of heavy equipment on fire, and they were requesting both fire and medical assistance …” Cottom said. “And the driver had to jump from the vehicle. The driver did sustain burns about his body. He was conscious and speaking with rescue personnel at the time.”

a properly functioning fire suppression system may have saved this miner’s life

He died five days later on September 12, 2018, due to complications from the burns.

During the investigation, MSHA checked the manually-activated fire suppression system.  Based on statements made during the investigation, the fire suppression system did not function when activated.  MSHA says “a properly functioning fire suppression system may have saved this miner’s life.”haul truck fire

Robert was a contract driver working for Custom Staffing Industrial Services at the time of the incident. The Peabody Bear Run mine employs 619 employees. There were 200 mine employees and 20 contractors on site at the time of the incident.

In a brief to mines from MSHA, a number of preventative strategies were highlighted.

Preventing haul truck fires

MSHA said “Preventing a fire is the best fire protection.  Install and maintain early fire detection and alarm systems on all haulage equipment that provide an audible and visible fire warning for miners to safely evacuate the equipment.” It added that mine sites should:

  • Thoroughly examine all haulage equipment and repair safety defects before placing equipment into service.  Follow the original equipment manufacturers maintenance recommendations.
  • Check for accumulations of combustible materials, cracked or blistered hoses, and uninsulated wires.
  • Be alert to changes in the way the equipment sounds or to a visible plume of exhaust coming from the exhaust system.
  • Conduct risk assessments on all equipment to determine safe exit locations for required escape and evacuation plans.
  • Establish and keep current an Escape and Evacuation Plan for exiting equipment in the event of a fire.  Train employees on contents of this plan.
  • Install well designed stairs or ladders to the equipment at both ends for an alternate escape.
  • Ensure fire suppression systems are properly maintained and protected from damage.  Install automatic fire suppression systems and train miners on their use.

What if it happened here?

At this years Resources Training Council Conference in Brisbane, conference participants heard of a similar incident at a Queensland mine where a haul truck operator jumped from a truck on fire and sustained broken legs after not exiting through the appropriate route.

The Conference participants highlighted that a module in the Standard 11 (S11) Generic Induction Program, RIIERR302D Respond to local emergencies and incidents, was cited by participants as one module that was often signed off without adequate demonstration of competence.

Following the US Incident, US Regulators have focussed attention on issues of training and competence for managing haul truck fires and fires in other plant. MSHA said “Adequate task training must be performed so equipment operators and mechanics will be able to maintain equipment, respond correctly to alarms, use fire suppression systems properly, and safely dismount equipment in an emergency.  Mine operators should provide refresher training as needed.”

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  • This happens when cost cuttings are the number one priority. Mine regulators/ Government should penalise and lay charges against Mine General Managers and OCE’s for safety issues. How can we have OCE’s on fat production bonus, when their main job discription is to look after the safety and we’ll been of the pit.

AMSJ April 2022