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MSHA finds safety rules ignored in rock fall that crushed coal miner

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MSHA finds safety rules ignored in rock fall that crushed coal miner

The March 30 death of a Kentucky coal miner occurred because the mine owner failed to identify and correct hazardous conditions, federal investigators concluded.

Joseph Partin, a 33-year-old foreman and auger operator, was crushed by a 2-ton rock that fell from a highwall at the Colonel Hollow mine in Whitley County. The accident occurred while Partin was standing between the auger machine and the highwall under the extended highwall guard.

A U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration investigation found that Green Hill Mining Inc did not implement policies and procedures to prevent miners from working between equipment and the highwall; did not comply with auger operating precautions in its ground control plan for mining the seam; and did not ensure mine examiners identified, recorded and corrected all hazardous conditions at the highwall.

The Colonel Hollow mine was shut down after the accident and placed in abandoned status, MSHA said in its report.

Green Hill was issued three citations and two orders for safety violations that contributed to the accident. Four of the violations were deemed unwarrantable failures to comply with a mandatory standard.

Partin was the fourth coal miner killed on the job in 2017; there have been 13 fatalities at coal mines this year, up from eight in all of 2016.