3 Companes Cited in West Virginia Coal Miner’s Death

July 13, 2009

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has cited three companies for violations surrounding the death of a novice truck driver at a West Virginia coal operation.

Danny L. Jones, 38, was thrown from an overloaded dump truck he was driving and was run over by its rear wheels when the truck hit a berm, the agency said in a report issued last Friday. It happened Aug. 22 on a haul road linking Double Bonus Coal’s No. 65 mine in Wyoming County to a preparation plant.

“The accident occurred because the truck was not properly maintained and had numerous safety defects,” MSHA said. “The truck was missing a seat belt, the door latches were missing, and a critical transmission component was broken.

“Additionally, the victim was not properly trained and sufficient management oversight was not provided to assure safety defects were corrected prior to placing the truck into service.”

The report listed 12 separate mechanical problems with the 1978 Mack dump truck and noted Jones was driving despite having just 16 of the minimum 24 hours of training required by federal regulations. Much of that training consisted of riding along with another driver, MSHA said. The agency also estimated the truck’s loaded weight at 73,560 pounds — about 18 percent above its rated capacity.

MSHA issued four citations to Varney-based B&L Trucking, including three so-called unwarrantable failures that carry the potential for higher fines. The agency also issued four citations to Rocky Gap, Va.-based trucking company Appalachian Leasing, which hired B&L as a subcontractor. Finally, MSHA gave Double Bonus five citations. All the citations covered mechanical problems and the driver’s lack of training.

Officials with Appalachian and B&L did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday, nor did a representative of Double Bonus’ corporate parent, Moscow-based conglomerate Mechel OAO.

Separately, the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training is seeking a court order to compel B&L to pay $82,000 in fines for violations uncovered by its investigation of the accident, spokeswoman Jama Jarrett said.

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