A coal miner of 40 years died after being struck by equipment at a Harlan County mine Tuesday, ending the nation's record span of 233 days without an underground coal mining fatality.
The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration said Wilson R. Meade, 58, was a section foreman at D&C Mining Corp.'s No. 1 mine at Cranks. He was crushed against conveyor equipment when a trailer loaded with concrete blocks rolled down a slope and hit him, according to MSHA's preliminary report.
Another employee was using a scoop to pull the trailer's load of blocks, and the chain to the trailer came loose, MSHA said.
Meade's death is the first in the nation at an underground coal mine since last October, according to Kevin Stricklin, MSHA's administrator for coal mine safety and health.
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That record, Stricklin said, came from factors such as an increase in the number of federal mining inspectors, stronger enforcement, higher penalties for violations and a greater awareness of hazards at mines.
Tony Oppegard, a Lexington lawyer and mine-safety advocate, said Kentucky's move to require six inspections annually at each underground mine — two more than federal inspectors are required to conduct — and its efforts to weed out miners impaired by drugs also were key contributors.