On May 18th, 2017, forty-four-year-old utility miner, Luches Rosser, was involved in a trolley accident which cost him his life. While traveling in a trolley-powered supply locomotive with a co-worker, the locomotive’s trolley pole became disconnected from the overhead wire. Rosser attempted to readjust the trolley pole to ensure contact with the wire, while the supply locomotive was still moving, and was struck in the head by a portion of the mine roof support. The injuries sustained from contact with the roof proved fatal for Rosser.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) cites the following procedures as best-practices involving these circumstances to avoid a trolley accident:
- Stop trolley-powered vehicles before attempting to place trolley pole back on the trolley wire
- Always face the direction of travel and exercise extreme caution in low clearance areas, as mining conditions often change, rapidly
- Keep all body parts within the operator’s compartment while a vehicle is in motion
- Stay below the highest part of a vehicle frame or windshield, especially when travelling through low clearance areas
- Install signs to warn miners of approaching low clearance areas and train miners to reduce speed in those areas
- Conduct proper travel-way examinations to identify and mitigate the hazards presented by low clearances
- Properly install and maintain trolley wires/trolley poles to eliminate areas where trolley pole is prone to coming off the trolley wire
- Examine the trolley pole harp for excessive wear
Powered haulage accidents are among the most common in the mining industry. A Trolley accident is one of these incidents where proper protocol and good safety knowledge can be the difference between life and death. They are potentially avoidable with adequate advisement and implementation of a safety system and proper maintenance of workspaces and equipment.