Here’s the description from MSHA of what happened in one recent coal-mining death out west:
On Thursday, September 1, 2011, at approximately 10:36 a.m., Cody A. Brown (victim), a contract well driller with approximately 17 months of drilling experience, was killed when a restraining wrench, commonly called a tong wrench, struck him in the upper body and limbs at Well Site #26. Brown and three other drilling personnel were attempting to remove drill pipe that had become bound up and was stuck in a drilled hole, approximately 1900 feet deep. The wire rope cable used to restrain the wrench broke, causing the wrench to strike Brown. Brown had just completed applying the wrench to the drill pipe to hold the applied torque when the wire cable failed. The wrench rotated around toward Brown at a high speed, throwing him into the drill rig.
This happened at the North Antelope Rochelle Mine, located 65 miles south of Gillette, Wyoming is operated by Peabody Powder River Mining LLC, a subsidiary of Peabody Powder River Operations LLC, St. Louis, Missouri. It’s one of the largest coal mines in the country, one of those huge surface mines in Wyoming. Important for background on this accident is this:
The mine employs approximately 1,310 miners. The mine normally has up to 300 contract employees. Weston Engineering, Inc. contracted with NARM to drill water wells at various locations on the mine property. The wells were for future ground cover watering and dust suppression on the mine property.
MSHA listed several