A 53-year-old contract truck driver with almost 11 years of experience was killed when a parked truck rolled over him during a pre-operational inspection, according to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
MSHA investigators found the contractor didn’t ensure its driver chocked trucks parked on a grade and failed to maintain braking systems in safe operating condition, leading to the fatal incident.
Loud crash followed by yells for help
On Aug. 11, 2021, Timothy Collins, a truck driver with HWM Truck Lines, was transported with two co-workers to a gravel parking lot located at the Star Bridge Preparation Plant-Rail Load, a coal mine in Randolph County, West Virginia.
Collins and his co-workers had parked their haul trucks, which were loaded with coal, in the gravel lot the day before because an accident had temporarily blocked haul truck access on the roadway.
The three drivers began conducting pre-operational inspections of their trucks. It was 5 a.m., so they had to use flashlights to complete their inspections.
One co-worker had just finished inspecting the front of his truck and was moving toward the rear when he heard a crash followed by Collins yelling for help. The co-worker went to Collins and saw that he was injured because Collins’ haul truck had run over him.
After the co-worker called for help via CB radio, several mine employees responded to the incident and 9-1-1 was called. Collins lost consciousness and no longer had a pulse, so the miners began CPR.
At 5:51 a.m., emergency responders arrived on scene and continued CPR until a doctor issued a cease efforts order and pronounced Collins dead at 6 a.m.
Truck overloaded, not chocked, had bad brakes
MSHA investigators found the truck was overloaded by more than 20 tons. They also found the trucks hadn’t been chocked or blocked to keep them from moving while parked on a grade that varied from 4.5% to 19%.
After testing the brakes on Collins’ truck, investigators found various parts of the service brake system were defective. The parking brake system was also in need of maintenance as its shoes were not in full contact with the drum in all locations with the brake set.
A review of the pre-op inspection records for the previous day revealed no recorded problems.
Collins was 53 years old at the time of his death. He had almost three years of experience driving haul trucks and almost 11 years of experience in driving trucks in general. He was up to date on his training and had been instructed by the mine operator to set the brakes of a haul truck and turn its wheels into a berm or block the wheels when it was unattended.
Procedures, training now in place
Investigators found the root causes for the incident were that the contractor didn’t ensure its drivers blocked or chocked trucks parked on a grade and didn’t maintain the truck’s braking system in safe operating condition.
The contractor has since implemented written procedures and training to confirm all drivers block, chock or use other means to prevent unintended motion of parked haul trucks. There are also newly developed written procedures for daily brake examinations and testing for trucks operating on the haul road.
The mine operator also developed written procedures for all contract trucking companies operating on its property for daily brake examinations and testing of haul trucks. All truck drivers are trained on the new procedures by the mine operator.