Determining The Root Causes Of Flame Cutting And Welding Fires In Underground U.S. Coal Mines
Description:One of the predominant causes of fires in underground coal mines is flame cutting and welding. These fires can lead to major events such as the explosion that occurred on January 22, 2003 in an airshaft being constructed at the McElroy mine. Six contractors were inside the shaft at the time of the explosion and the explosion fatally injured three and seriously injured three [MSHA 2003]. Understanding the root causes of these fires and explosions will help prevent these types of events from occurring in the future. Fires and explosions require fuel, oxygen and an ignition source (heat). These three items are referred to as a fire triangle. The control of these three items in flame cutting and welding operations is required to prevent fires and or explosions. United States Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) Reports of Investigation (ROI), MSHA Mine Accident, Injury, and Illness Reports, and the MSHA Mining Industry Accident, Injuries Employment, and Production Data Base were analyzed and interviews and observations with mine workers and welders were conducted to determine the root causes of coal mine fires and explosions caused by flame cutting and welding operations. This paper will discuss the root causes and potential means to reduce the number of fires and resulting fatalities and injuries caused by or due to flame cutting and welding.
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