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District 10


Smith Underground No. 1 (I.D. No. 15-16020)
Costain Coal Inc.
Providence, Webster County, Kentucky

October 10, 1995


Allen L. Head
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
100 YMCA Drive, Madisonville, Kentucky 42431-9019
Rexford Music, District Manager


Costain Coal, Inc., operates Smith Underground No. 1 mine, which is located on Highway 670, approximately .1 mile north of Providence in Webster County, Kentucky. Smith Underground No. 1 mine began production on October 6, 1994. The mine is accessed by four drift openings into the Kentucky No. 13 coal bed. The average mining height is 98 inches. This one section mine utilizes two continuous mining machines to extract 4000 tons of sub-bituminous coal daily, operating two 10-hour production and one maintenance shift each 24 hour period. Coal haulage is provided by three Joy 10SC shuttle cars which transport coal from the continuous mining machines to the mainline conveyor belt. Battery-powered scoop tractors and diesel-powered haulage units are used at the mine for transportation of men and materials. All self-propelled haulage equipment is rubber tired.

The principal officers of Costain Coal, Inc., Smith Underground No. 1 mine are as follows:

T. H. Parker................................President
William M. Potter........................Vice President
Dennis W. Bryant........................Mine Manager
Robert Hackney..........................Mine Foreman
William C. Adelman.....................Director of Loss Prevention

The last regular safety and health inspection (AAA) of this mine was completed on September 19, 1995. A regular inspection was ongoing at the time of the accident.


On Tuesday, October 10, 1995, at 4:15 p.m., the second shift production crew, under the supervision of Thomas R. Adams, section foreman, reported for work and traveled underground to the No. 1 Section. Mining operations began shortly afterward and progressed without incident. Alan Lovvorn, third shift mechanic, reported to work early and got to the section at about 9:00 p.m. Upon arrival, Lovvorn was told to replace the traction planetary drive and hub assembly on the No. M-25 Joy continuous mining machine, which was located in the No. 4 entry. Lovvorn removed the drive unit, but was unsuccessful in detaching the hub. Continuing his efforts, Lovvorn used an 8 pound sledge hammer to strike the hub several times to try and separate it from the crawler chain, but it would not break free.

At about 10:20 p.m., Richard V. Pickering III (victim), miner helper, arrived and asked Lovvorn if he needed some help working on the continuous miner. Lovvorn asked Pickering to continue striking the hub with the hammer in an effort to free the crawler chain. Pickering got to his knees and struck the hub once with the 8 pound hammer. Lovvorn saw the hub move and told Pickering to strike it again. Pickering complied and then immediately cried out. He then jumped to his feet and Lovvorn asked if he had been struck by a piece of metal. Pickering coughed up some blood and ran toward the roof bolting machine located in the No. 2 entry.

Tony E. Tedder, roof bolting machine operator and EMT, was by the roof bolting machine when Pickering ran up to him shouting, "look at this!" Tedder saw a small cut below Pickering's right collar bone with several drops of blood around it. Tedder sat Pickering down in the deck of the roof bolting machine, and then Pickering lost consciousness. Tedder immediately stopped a shuttle car and told the operator to call for an ambulance. He then placed a compress over Pickering's wound.

Foreman Adams was in the No. 1 entry watching the operation of the other continuous mining machine when he heard Tedder shout for help. He ran to the roof bolting machine and was joined by Lovvorn, Ed Love, miner operator, and Ronnie Gibson, miner helper. Tedder told Adams that Pickering had received a cut to the throat area and Adams saw the compress that Tedder had placed over the injury. As Lovvorn and Tedder removed Pickering from the deck of roof bolting machine, Pickering regained consciousness and told them that his feet were caught in the deck of the machine. After freeing Pickering's feet, he was laid on his side to facilitate his breathing. Pickering was then given oxygen and was able to communicate to some extent.

Rodney Brown, truck driver, arrived with a diesel-powered pick-up truck and Pickering was loaded into the back and transported to the outside. When they arrived at the portal they were met by members from Providence Ambulance Service. Pickering was transported to Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at approximately 12:25 a.m.


MSHA District Manager Rexford Music was notified of the accident by Bill Adelman, director of loss prevention, at approximately 12:15 a.m. The investigation team arrived at the mine at 2:15 a.m. and began a joint investigation with the Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals. Employees of Costain Coal, Inc., and Smith Underground No. 1 mine assisted during the investigation.

The accident scene was examined, measurements and photographs were taken, and related equipment was examined. Interviews of persons who had knowledge of the accident were conducted by MSHA and the Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals at the Smith Coal Training facility on October 11.


Records indicated that required training had been conducted in accordance with the requirements of 30 CFR, Part 48.


The investigation revealed the following factors relevant to the occurrence of the accident:

  1. The No. M-25 Joy CM-14-09-10BX continuous mining machine involved in the accident had been jacked up approximately 18 inches above the mine floor and supported by cribs.

  2. The traction planetary hub assembly on the continuous mining machine had been struck with a sledge hammer prior to the victim's arrival to the accident site.

  3. Examination revealed that a tooth on the traction planetary hub assembly was missing a sliver of metal from a fresh break.

  4. When the accident occurred, the victim was on his knees swinging the 8 pound hammer upward to strike the hub. This working space afforded only approximately 5 to 8 inches of travel between the mine floor and the tooth of the traction planetary hub assembly. This distance could not be precisely determined because the oncoming shift had moved the hub assembly after the accident occurred.


The accident sequence began when the hardened metal traction planetary hub assembly failed to separate from the crawler chain pad during repair. The accident potential was increased when attempts were made to free the wedged hub by striking it with a steel sledge hammer. The accident occurred when the victim struck the hub assembly, dislodging a sliver of metal which entered his lower right throat area. X-rays revealed that the sliver had lacerated a major artery in the upper chest area, causing internal bleeding.


  1. 103(k) Order No. 4066727 was issued to Costain Coal, Inc., to assure the safety of all persons in the affected area.

  2. 104(a) Citation No. 4066728 was issued because the accident site had been altered prior to the arrival of the investigative team, a violation of 30 CFR, Part/Section 50.12.

Respectfully submitted by:

Allen L. Head
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Approved by:

Rexford Music
District Manager, District 10

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB95C34]