Report: Mine operator’s inspection negligent before accident


HARLAN (AP) — Federal regulators have concluded that a Harlan County coal mine operator’s negligence resulted in a miner’s death earlier this year.

A report issued by the Mine Safety and Health Administration found that Lone Mountain Processing’s Huff Creek No. 1 failed to inspect the mine or correct an obvious hazard prior to Mark Frazier’s death, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported Thursday.

Frazier, 48, was using machinery to clean up loose rock and coal in the mine on March 25 when a slab weighing more than five tons fell on him and killed him.

Prior to the accident, mine managers failed to adequately conduct a pre-shift examination or install adequate supports to keep rock overhangs from falling, the report said.

Minutes before the rock fall, a foreman had seen a crack in the wall where Frazier and others were working, but didn’t take immediate action to correct the problem, the report said.

Arch Coal, which owns Lone Mountain Processing, did not immediately reply to a call for comment.

Following Frazier’s death, investigators spotted several hazards at the site, including cracks in the mine wall and excessive widths of the mine tunnel which violated the plan for guarding against roof falls, according to the report.

“These hazardous conditions were obvious to the most casual observer and had existed for an extended period of time,” it said.

Investigators concluded the mine operator had engaged in “aggravated conduct constituting more than ordinary negligence.”

MSHA cited the mine for several violations related to the fatal rock fall.

Frazier’s death is one of two at Kentucky coal mines this year, equaling last year’s total.

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