Whitesburg KY

Plate from bulldozer kills mechanic


A contract mechanic at a coal prep plant was fatally crushed when a metal plate under a bulldozer fell on him while he was working on the machine, authorities said.

John G. Workman was killed March 12 while working at Appalachian Fuels LLC’s Alloy Prep Plant No. 1 in Boomer, said Ron Wooten, director of the state Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training.

Workman, 47, was alone and there were no witnesses, Wooten said Thursday.

The metal plate protects components such as oil lines on the underside of the dozer. Workman had secured it with a chain connected to a small crane on his work truck, but investigators believe the chain somehow slipped, pinning him.

While it’s apparently common practice to secure a bulldozer skid plate with a chain, Workman wasn’t following the manufacturer’s recommended method, Wooten said. Caterpillar recommends using a proprietary jack.

Prep plants are used for work including blending various grades of coal and cleaning coal. A representative of Ashland, Ky.- based Appalachian Fuels did not immediately return a call.

Workman was the first person killed in a mine-related accident in West Virginia this year; there were nine such deaths in the state in 2007.

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration’s Web site lists five coal mining deaths nationwide so far this year.

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