West Virginia Trucking Firms Fines for Fatal Mining Accident

May 22, 2009

The state of West Virginia has fined a trucking company $50,000 for violations investigators say contributed to a fatal coal mining accident in February, a spokeswoman for the Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training said.

Medford Trucking was fined $10,000 apiece for each of five contributing violations found during the investigation of the death of coal truck driver William Wade, agency spokeswoman Jama Jarrett said.

Kevin Medford of Charleston-based Medford Trucking did not immediately respond to message left on his cell phone.

Wade, 70, died after he lost control of a tractor-trailer rig that rolled over on a steep haul road at Richmond, Va.-based Massey Energy’s Republic Energy surface mine Feb. 6. He was the first of five coal miners to die on the job in the United States so far in 2009.

State investigators found numerous problems with the truck’s brakes, according to an accident report.

Three of the contributing violations involve the brakes.

Among other things, part of the truck’s air brakes had been bypassed, reducing the amount of air available to operate the system, investigators said in the report. Investigators also found excessive wear to brakes on the truck and trailer, and one of the trailer’s rear brakes was not working at the time of the accident.

Medford also was cited for failing to follow its comprehensive safety program, which included a 59-point daily inspection on coal trucks. Investigators say Medford was using a 10-item inspection checklist.

The fifth contributing violation involved Wade’s failure to wear a seat belt. The report says Wade was thrown from a passenger window, which investigators said would have been prevented by buckling up.

Medford also was cited for a noncontributing violation for a record-keeping violation.

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