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District 7


Lost Mountain Mining Company
Lost Mountain Mining Company Mine
I.D. No. 15-13937
Lost Creek, Perry County, Kentucky

April 15, 1995


Charlie Fields
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector/Accident Inspector

Originating Office-Mine Safety and Health Administration
HC 66, Box 1762, Barbourville, Kentucky 40906
Joseph W. Pavlovich, District 7 Manager


Abstract of Fatal Slip or Fall Accident

At approximately 8:40 p.m., on Saturday, April 15, 1995, a fatal slip or fall of person accident occurred on a P&H, 2800 electric stripping shovel located in the J855 pit, at the Lost Mountain Mining Company Mine of Lost Mountain Mining Company.

Billy Warren Williams, foreman, fell 31 feet and 4 inches through a cut-away portion of an elevated walkway located adjacent the shovel's boom, first striking the machine power cable supporter and finally striking the ground.

The fatal slip of fall resulted in the death of the foreman. The accident occurred as a direct result of the failure to insure the wearing of safety belts or lines when working from an elevated position where a danger of falling existed.

General Information and Background

The Lost Mountain Mining Company surface mine is located at Lost Creek, Perry County, Kentucky and is operated by Lost Mountain Mining Company, a subsidiary of Cyprus/Amax Minerals Company.

The Principal Officials of Cyprus/Amax Minerals Company are:

W. Mark Hart ................President
Kevin S. Crutchfield .......Vice President/General Manager
Phillip C. Wolf ............... Senior Vice President/General Counsel and Secretary

The Principal Officials of Lost Mountain Mining Company are:

W. Mark Hart ................President
Kevin S. Crutchfield ...... Vice President/General Manager
Francis J. Kane ............. Vice President/Treasurer

The Principal Officials of the mine are:

Kevin S. Crutchfield ......Vice President/General Manager
Walt Reed ....................Superintendent
Thomas Lewis, Jr. .........Safety Director

The mine employs l4l employees and l8 salary employees on two production shifts and one maintenance shift. The mine produces l0,000 tons of coal daily, and operates six to seven days per week.

There are, at present, five active pits. Coal seams mined from these seams are located in the Hazard No's.7, 8 and 9 coal beds and range independently in thickness from 40 inches to 60 inches.

Overburden is extracted from the surface by " mountain-top removal" methods, utilizing a Marion 8050 dragline equipped with a 60 yard bucket, a P&H Model 2800 MKII electric shovel equipped with a 30 yard bucket and a Caterpillar Model 995 front end- loader equipped with a 23 yard bucket. Explosives, including ANFO, are used to blast the overburden above the coal seam. The overburden is hauled utilizing Euclid and Wabco 170 ton haulback trucks and Terex 85 and 120 ton haulback trucks. Coal is loaded from the excavated pits and is transported from the pit areas, via truck, to the preparation plant located on mine property where the coal is processed. The clean coal is then transported, via Highway l5, to the railway loadout facility located at Bulan, Kentucky where it is loaded into railroad cars and shipped to various utilities throughout the United States.

The last Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) regular AAA inspection was completed on February 15, 1995.

Description of Accident

On Saturday, April l5, l995, the evening shift had begun normally at 7:00 p.m. with the mine foreman, Billy W. Williams giving the miners general instructions for the work to be performed during the on-coming shift. Records examined indicate that Williams conducted his onshift examination of Job Site No. 7 and the shift continued without incident up until the time of the accident.

Williams instructed Joseph K. Langhorn, mechanic and Timothy J. Miller, Welder, to perform work on the shovel. Langhorn was instructed to examine the saddle blocks for slack. Miller's instructions were to replace a damaged portion of catwalk located on the operator's right side of the boom.

Langhorn completed his examination and observed no slack in the saddle blocks. He then dismounted the shovel and left for the shop.

At that time, Miller then boarded the shovel and carried torches, welder, welding hood and welding rods up to the damaged section of catwalk. Miller then proceeded to cut away the damaged catwalk from the frame.

Williams arrived at some time during these activities. Langhorn soon returned to the pit and discussed the condition of the saddle blocks with Williams.

Jerry L. Campbell, Mechanic, arrived at the jobsite in the interim to assist Langhorn in the repair of the shovel. Campbell, Williams and Langhorn stood on the ground and observed Miller cutting the catwalk loose. When Miller completed cutting the damaged catwalk, he dismounted the shovel and traveled to his truck to obtain a bar to pry the loose material out. The truck was parked, but located on the opposite side of the shovel from where the other miners were standing.

At this time, Williams travelled onboard the shovel. According to statements made during interviews, the remaining miners did not see him do so.

Langhorn, obtained tools from his truck, placed them on the shovel's manlift, and then returned to his truck.

Campbell had just begun walking to his truck which was parked, near the shovel, and alongside that of the welder's truck. Both Williams and Langhorn were out of his sight at this time. Enroute, Campbell spoke with Miller, then proceeded and began gathering tools. Langhorn, Miller and Campbell all stated in interview that they then heard the sound of metal parts clashing.

Hearing the sound, Langhorn turned and saw Williams falling in the air. At that time, Williams was located approximately five feet above the power cable supporter. Langhorn stated that the victim was in a "head-first" position with arms outstretched to the front of his head. Langhorn stated he did not see William's impact. Langhorn immediately ran to Williams, who was lying on the ground on his back. He kneeled and asked Williams if he was alright. Williams briefly spoke, then lowered his head. Langhorn ran to his truck and summoned assistance from EMT's located in another pit and called for an ambulance.

Campbell also had heard the sound of metal parts clashing, and called to Miller. Campbell then walked to where he could see the entire area and observed Williams on the ground. He then ran to Williams, and observed Williams take 3 gasps of air. He attempted to converse with him, but got no response. Campbell began mouth to mouth resuscitation as soon as he observed that Williams had stopped breathing.

When Miller heard the clashing noise, he travelled back up the stairway leading to the catwalk and then saw Williams lying on the ground. Miller immediately dismounted the shovel and went to assist Campbell and Langhorn with the victim. With the victim now being attended by Campbell and Miller, Langhorn then left the scene in his truck and picked up Bulldozer Operator, Isaac B. Williams, an EMT. He then returned to the accident site where Williams then checked for vital signs. He found no pulse or breathing. Isaac Williams began CPR by himself, then was assisted by Langhorn. CPR continued until Frankie Bently, Laborer, arrived. Bently had been contacted by portable radio, by Langhorn, to bring the ambulance to the accident site. An- other EMT, Johnny Miller, Dragline Operator, had seen the ambulance rush by the dragline which he was operating in an adjacent pit. Miller utilized his CB radio to inquire as to who had been hurt and was told that Billy Williams had fallen from the shovel. Miller, then also travelled to the accident site to assist. The victim was placed into the ambulance and EMT's Isaac B. Williams and Johnny Miller continued CPR until their arrival at the Hazard Appalachian Regional Hospital. The victim was pronounced dead at 9:33 p.m.

The Investigation

Avon Pratt, CMI, of MSHA's Hazard Subdistrict was notified of the accident by Thomas Lewis of Lost Mountain Mining Company at 10:05 p.m. An investigation was begun immediately.

Physical Factors Involved

  1. The P&H Model 2800 MKII electric shovel was idled at the time of the accident for maintenance.

  2. Weather conditions were overcast with darkness falling. According to statements obtained in interviews, the accident site was well illuminated. Immediately after the accident, rain began falling.

  3. The damaged catwalk had been cut apart from the frame with torches. According to statements obtained, care was being exercised to insure that the section cut away would not fall through and possibly strike the machine's power cable which was located below the cut away catwalk.

  4. The victim fell from the boom of the shovel, a distance of 26 feet and 6 inches, striking the metal bar of the power cable supporter, and finally striking the ground surface, a total of 3l feet and 4 inches from the catwalk on the boom to the ground.

  5. According to the statements obtained during interviews, neither the victim, nor the welder, Miller, had utilized safety belts while working from an elevated position, despite an obvious falling hazard.

  6. An examination of the operator's training materials indicated that Lost Mountain Mining Company's Safety Rules and Procedures Handbook clearly states on Page 3 "Safety belts or life lines shall be used, by employees, when exposed to hazardous falls."

  7. There were no eye witnesses to pinpoint the exact position from which the victim fell.

  8. The victim's hard hat was found lodged behind the crowd motor housing adjacent to the boom of the shovel.

  9. No other physical evidence in the form of smudges, clothing fibers, etc. was found on or around the boom of the shovel to assist investigators in determining the victim's exact position prior to the fall. Heavy rains may have been a factor in washing away such evidence.

  10. The guardrail's spacing for the right side of the catwalk platform measured 33" in length. The height of the guardrails measured 20" at 90 degrees from the framing of the catwalk to the bottom guardrail and 42" to the top guardrail. The center guardrail's spacing was 25" from the right hand sides first corner post of the platform. The forward guardrails measured l6" in length with the center guardrail being 20" from the framing and the top guardrail being 42". On the left side of the catwalk, at the top of the steps leading to the catwalk platform, there is no guardrail. The distance from the step to this end of the framing on the left side is 28 l/2".

  11. The cut-away metal portion of the damaged catwalk, weighing approximately 50 lbs., was found lying on the framing of the power cable supporter to the right of the position of the victim's initial impact, indicating that the portion of the catwalk had been dislodged by the victim in such a manner as to cause the victim to lose his balance at the work location.

  12. Statements obtained during interviews indicated that the portion of the catwalk fell first, prior to the victim, which resulted in the sound of metal parts clashing.

  13. Injuries sustained by the victim as indicated in the Autopsy Report, including abrasions and lacerations, closely resemble the pattern of the edge of the cut-away material indicating the victim's contact with the cut-away edge of the metal material in the framing.

  14. Results obtained from the Report of Autopsy do not indicate either abrasions or lacerations of the hands or forearms which suggests that the victim did not try to grab or to prevent his fall. However, statements obtained during interview indicated that the victim was wearing gloves at the time of the accident.

  15. In the distance of the fall, 26.5 feet, the duration of the victim's fall would have been less than two seconds.

  16. Statements obtained during interviews indicate that prior to impact the victim was in a "head-first" position.

  17. Measurements of the frame, angle bracing and cut-away portion of the catwalk indicate that both the victim and the cut-away portion of the catwalk could pass through the narrower opening at the base of the angle bracing.

  18. Located directly beneath the frame and portion of catwalk are a gear casing, drain line and valve. These are of sufficient dimension to deflect the grating to the victim's right, and would allow the victim to pass through the angle bracing unobstructed.

  19. Results of the Report of Autopsy indicate that neither drugs nor alcohol was a factor. However, statements obtained during the course of the investigation indicated that the victim may have received less than 5 hours of sleep prior to the shift on which the accident occurred.


It is the consensus of the investigating team that based upon the location and type of injuries received and statements obtained during the course of interviews that the victim fell head-first through the opening in the catwalk while attempting to remove the cut-away grating. The accident occurred as a direct result of the failure to insure the wearing of safety belts or lines when working from an elevated position.

Enforcement Actions

  1. A Section l03(k) Order was issued to ensure the safety of other persons in the mine until an investigation by MSHA was conducted.

  2. A Section l04(a) Citation was issued, to the operator, for failure to insure the wearing of safety belt(s) or line(s) when working from an elevated position despite a danger of falling. This was a violation of 75.l7l0(g).

Respectfully submitted by:

Charlie Fields
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector/Accident Investigator

Approved by:

Edward R. Morgan
Acting Subdistrict Manager Hazard, KY Subdistrict

Joseph Pavlovich
District 7 Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB95C11]