Mine safety hazard results in $110,000 fine

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The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration Tuesday said it has fined a Somerset County coal mine $110,000 for creating a dangerous electrocution hazard that injured a miner in October 2007.

The miner was accidentally shocked while changing a fuse on a high-voltage switch in Rox Coal Inc.'s Geronimo Mine, two days after the mine's chief electrician had intentionally disabled the safety switch, according to MSHA. As a result, the miner who was shocked and a co-worker worked within inches of a 7,200-volt live line.

In sustaining the original MSHA assessment that the violation was "significant and substantial and highly likely to result in permanently disabling injuries," an administrative law judge deemed the violation "quintessentially flagrant."

The Geronimo Mine in Jenner and Quemahoning townships is an underground mine in the Lower Kittanning that employed 70 miners in 2007 and produced almost 300,000 tons of coal.

The mining company has 30 days to appeal the MSHA law judge decision to the full Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission.

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