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District 4



No. 1 Mine (ID No. 46-08382)
Redbird Mining, L.L.C.
Gilbert, Mingo County, West Virginia

January 19, 1996


Vaughan Gartin

Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
100 Bluestone Road, Mount Hope, West Virginia 25880
Earnest C. Teaster, Jr., District Manager


The No. 1 mine, Redbird Mining, L.L.C., is located at Sharkey Branch near Gilbert, Mingo County, West Virginia. The mine is developed from the surface by four drift entries into the Upper Cedar Grove coalbed which averages 80 inches in height at the face areas.

The mine began production in August 1994. Employment is provided for 18 employees, 14 underground and four surface, on one production shift and one maintenance shift. The mine produces an average of 500 tons of coal daily from one continuous-mining- machine section. Coal is transported from the section to the surface via belt conveyor. The immediate roof is comprised of 27 feet of gray, sandy shale with coal streaks and is primarily supported with 42-inch resin-grouted roof bolts. The roof supports are installed on 4-foot lengthwise and 4-foot to 5-foot crosswise spacing with 8- by 8-inch bearing plates. Ventilation is induced into the mine by a Joy 5-foot exhausting fan that produces about 85,000 cubic feet of air a minute. Methane was not detected during the last inspection. The roof control plan in effect at the mine was approved by the Mine Safety and Health Administration on May 12, 1995.

The last MSHA safety and health inspection (AAA) was completed November 16, 1995.


After arriving at the mine site, Chadrick H. Cline, section foreman, prepared himself and the day-shift crew for departure to the underground working section. This section had been preshifted by Rex Backus, preshift examiner, and his findings were called out to the surface. Cline received the report and entered the conditions observed by Backus in the preshift mine examiner's report book. The day-shift crew departed the surface around 7:00 a.m. and traveled to the working section via a rubber-tired man trip pulled by a battery-powered scoop. Travel time normally takes 15 to 20 minutes. Upon arrival on the section, Cline traveled across the eight working face areas to check on conditions and conduct face examinations.

Upon completion of the face examinations, Cline instructed the crew where to start mining. The continuous-mining-machine crew began normal mining activities around 7:45 a.m. in the No. 2 entry with a Joy 12CM3-10AKK deck-operated continuous-mining machine. After extraction of coal in the No. 2 entry, the continuous-mining machine was taken to the No. 1 entry and, upon nearing completion of the extraction of the 20-foot cut of coal, experienced problems with the coal gathering arms. Cline and John Hall, electrician, decided to take the continuous-mining machine to the No. 8 entry for repairs since this was the next place to be mined.

The continuous-mining machine was positioned near the center of the No. 8 entry, 21 feet outby the face area for maintenance work to be performed. Cline instructed Robert Brewer, shuttle-car operator, to bring some cribs up to the continuous-mining machine so that the ripper head could be blocked in a raised position. Roy Aldridge raised and lowered the ripper head for Cline to set the crib underneath the ripper head. The crib was approximately 48" high, and the 12- to 15-ton head was lowered onto the crib between 11:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. At this time, Hall and James Messer, co-owner, proceeded to take out the universal drive-shaft assembly for the gathering arms located on the left side of the continuous-mining machine. After removal, the drive shaft contained some damage to the splines. Messer took the drive shaft to the surface so that repairs could be made. After repairs were made, Messer brought the drive shaft back to the continuous-mining machine. Cline and Messer proceeded to install the drive shaft. Hall, who was scheduled to replace the valve chest on January 20, 1996, due to oil leaks, decided to change out the valve chest since the continuous-mining machine would be out of service for repairs. Roy Aldridge assisted Hall with the valve chest repairs. In the meantime, Cline and Messer continued to work on the drive-shaft assembly while the valve chest was taken off.

Messer proceeded to crawl under the ripper head and onto the gathering-arm pan to help Cline with the drive shaft. Messer realized at this time that he could not assist Cline at this location, so he crawled out from underneath the ripper head to assist Cline from another position. Cline was positioned across the left side bar, underneath the assembly doing repairs. Messer was crossing or stepping over Cline's outstretched legs when the crib gave way, kicked out, allowing the ripper-head assembly to fall on Cline, causing crushing injuries. The miner head had been on the cribs between 1 and 1 1/2 hours. Messer checked Cline for vital signs, but none could be detected. Hall, who was positioned around the operator's compartment, realized that the assembly had fallen due to the onrush of oil which spurted out of the hydraulic hoses that were disconnected from the valve chest. Messer informed Hall that Cline was underneath the assembly and Hall immediately started to connect the hoses to the valve chest, which had been taken off 15 to 20 minutes prior to the accident. The hydraulic hoses were reconnected to the head assembly, the assembly was raised, and Cline was removed. Ronald McCoy and Richard Trent, EMTs, checked Cline for vital signs, but none were present. Cline was placed on a stretcher and transported to the surface. Cline was then placed in the care of the Stafford EMS Ambulance Service and was pronounced dead by Irvin Sopher, Chief Medical Examiner, at 1:15 p.m.


The Mine Safety and Health Administration was notified at 1:45 p.m. on January 19, 1996, that a fatal machinery accident had occurred. Mine Safety and Health Administration personnel arrived at the mine at 3:30 p.m. A 103(k) Order was issued to ensure the safety of the miners.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration and the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training jointly conducted the investigation with the assistance of mine management personnel and the miners.

All parties were briefed by mine management personnel as to the circumstances surrounding the accident. A discussion was held with an eyewitness who was working with and in close proximity to the victim.

Representatives from all parties conducted the on-site portion of the investigation on January 19, 22, and 24, 1996. Photographs and relevant measurements were taken and sketches made at the accident site.

Interviews of individuals known to have direct knowledge of the facts surrounding the accident were conducted at the Mine Safety and Health Administration Office located at Mount Gay, West Virginia, on January 23, 1996.

The physical portion of the investigation was completed January 24, 1996, and the 103(k) Order was terminated.



Records indicate that training had been conducted in accordance with Part 48, 30 CFR. An examination of Cline's training records revealed that he had received all required training.


Records and the presence of the examiner's date, time, and initials indicated that the required examinations, including electrical checks on the miner, were being conducted weekly.


  1. The accident occurred on the working section in the No. 8 entry about 2,800 feet inby the drift opening.

  2. The mining height (roof to floor) at the accident site was 80 inches.

  3. The continuous-mining machine was a Joy 12CM3-10AKK, Serial No. JM2127, manufactured in 1976 previous to the time hydraulic line load-locking devices were required. Load- locking devices had not been installed subsequent to the machine's manufacture.

  4. The ripper head was not centered on the crib support. The crib was built approximately 48" high and was in position approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The investigation indicated that the continuous miner did not move when the crib collapsed, and the head fell.

  5. The blocking material (6" x 6" x 30" crib) contained both oak and poplar woods. The crib blocks were comprised of old and new blocks. The floor was firm with some loose coal. The crib was built by Cline, and it is not known if it was checked during the time of the repairs.

  6. According to all witnesses interviewed, only one set of cribs was used whenever the ripper head had to be blocked for repairs.

  7. The valve chest assembly had been removed for 15 or 20 minutes before the accident occurred. The counter balance valve (cbv) was stated to be in place and connected to the hoses from the head jacks and was in place at the time of the investigation.

  8. The continuous miner was tested to see if the accident could be simulated. Tests with the hoses off the valve chest, as they were reported to be at the time of the accident, and the counter balance valve in place, could not get the head to suddenly fall; but the head did creep at rates between 8 and 12.5 inches per minute. The counter balance valve was not functioning properly in that it was leaking, which allowed the head to creep.


A fatal accident occurred because adequate or proper crib blocking was not installed for the ripper-head assembly of the Joy 12CM3-10AKK continuous-mining machine. While repair and maintenance work was being performed on the universal drive-shaft assembly for the gathering arms and the valve chest was replaced, the victim was positioned over the left side bar and underneath the assembly. The crib kicked forward, allowing the assembly to rapidly fall, causing fatal crushing injuries.

The condition of the hydraulic system was a factor in this accident. If the counter balance valve was in place and not blocked open with foreign material, it should have kept the cutter head in an elevated position. The onrush of oil at the valve chest location is indicative of some undetermined condition in the hydraulic system. Load-locking valves were not installed on this machine.


A 104(a) Citation No. 4638302 was issued stating in part that adequate or proper crib blocking was not provided for the ripper- head assembly so as to prevent motion or movement, a violation of 75.1725(c), 30 CFR.

Respectfully submitted by:

Vaughan Gartin
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Approved by:

Richard J. Kline
Assistant District Manager

Earnest C. Teaster, Jr.
District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon FAB96C01