On November 16, 2007, Jack Ward, a 66-year-old truck driver, was fatally injured when the haulage truck he was operating backed over the edge of a spoil dump, where waste materials from the surface coal mine were deposited. The truck rolled 177 ft down the dump slope and came to rest upside down in a pool of water at the bottom of the pit. The cause of death was drowning. Just two weeks earlier, a similar accident occurred at the same mine when a truck nearly slid off the roadway, injuring the driver.
MSHA issued three flagrant violations to Farrell-Cooper, the first because it failed to provide Ward with new miner training. According to an MSHA “Certificate of Training” form filled out by the company, Ward received eight hours of new miner training on November 2, 2007. However, the investigation revealed he was at the mine site for only two hours that day, after which he left the mine for his pre-employment physical. Four days later, Ward began driving the haul truck. He was killed in the accident 10 days later.
A second flagrant violation was issued for failing to conduct shift examinations and identify hazardous conditions at the mine site. MSHA’s inspection revealed that 675 ft of elevated roadways and dump sites at the mine had deficient berms, which directly contributed to the fatal accident, as well as the lost-time injury accident two weeks earlier.
MSHA issued a third flagrant violation for not providing berms, bumper blocks, safety hooks or similar means to prevent overtravel and overturning at the pit spoil dump. Dump sites at the mine were missing 185 ft of berm, including the location where the fatal accident occurred.
MSHA also cited Farrell-Cooper for failing to provide sufficient illumination at the dump site, thereby preventing identification of the edges of the pit.
On September 15, 2010, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, Mine Superintendent Greg Bryce pled guilty to knowingly allowing miners to work without first receiving the required number of hours of introductory training in November 2007. The mine operator accepted all seven citations as written, except for one minor change, and agreed to pay 80% of the penalties as originally assessed.