DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REPORT
FATAL POWERED HAULAGE ACCIDENT
Spartan Mine (ID No. 11-00612)
Old Ben Coal Company
Sparta, Randolph County, Illinois
April 8, 1996
Steven M. Miller
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
P. O. Box 418, 501 Busseron Street, Vincennes, Indiana 47591
James K. Oakes, District Manager
At approximately 5:00 p.m. on April 8, 1996, a fatal haulage accident occurred at Old Ben Coal Company's Spartan Mine. The victim, Raleigh E. Meacham, General Inside Laborer, was sent to Unit 1 to pick up a slinger rockduster and rockdust the No. 5 Entry outby the section loading point. Richard Goans, Electrician, helped Meacham connect the rockduster to his battery-powered tractor and watched him drive the tractor outby Unit 1. Meacham was found by Goans approximately 15 minutes later, three crosscuts outby the section loading point. Meacham was pinned under his tractor in the No. 5 Entry at Station 5+50. The tractor was moved off the victim, CPR was administered immediately, and he was transported to the Sparta Hospital. The victim was then airlifted to St. Louis University Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, where he was pronounced dead at 10:02 p.m. There were no eyewitnesses to the accident.
Old Ben Coal Company's Spartan Mine is located 5 miles northeast of Sparta in Randolph County, Illinois. The underground mine began production in December 1952, and employs 170 people underground and 11 people on the surface. They are mining the Herrin No. 6 Coal Seam, with three continuous miner units producing coal three shifts a day. Coal is removed from the mine by a series of conveyor belts and then transferred to the surface on a slope belt. The mine produces approximately 6,600 tons of coal daily.
The principal officials for Spartan Mine at the time of the accident were:
David M. Young...................President
Michael D. Smart..................General Manager/Superintendent
Thomas W. Henry.................Maintenance Manager
John S. Biby..........................Division Loss Control Manager
The last completed MSHA Safety and Health Inspection (AAA) began on January 2, 1996, and was completed on March 25, 1996. The MSHA Safety and Health Inspection (AAA) for the quarter in which this accident occurred had not yet begun at the time of the accident.
DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT
At 4:00 p.m., April 8, 1996, the shift began under the supervision of Cliffton E. Walker, shift mine manager. The evening shift crew walked down the slope to begin their shift. Walker instructed Raleigh E. Meacham, General Inside Laborer, to go to Crosscut No. 84 and pick up the S&S battery tractor and go to Unit 1 (MMU-001). Meacham's instructions were to disconnect the MSA slinger rockduster from Unit 1's section battery scoop, connect it to his battery tractor, and begin rockdusting No. 5 Entry outby Unit 1. There were approximately 1,000 pounds of rockdust in the slinger rockduster. Meacham was to apply this rockdust to the No. 5 Entry, travel to the rockdust borehole to refill the slinger duster and then take the rockduster to Unit 3 (MMU-003) for their use at the end of the shift.
Meacham drove the tractor from Crosscut No. 84 to Unit 1. When he arrived on the unit he went to the face area and asked Gary Grizzell, Section Foreman, where the section scoop with the slinger duster connected to it was located. Meacham then located the section scoop with the slinger duster connected to it, and removed the scoop from the duster. Richard Goans, Electrician, spoke with Meacham at this time. Meacham then backed his tractor to the slinger duster, and Goans connected the slinger duster to Meacham's tractor. Grizzell also came along about this time and spoke with Meacham and Goans. At approximately 5:00 p.m., Grizzell and Goans observed Meacham driving outby with the slinger duster connected. Goans and Grizzell then turned and proceeded towards the face area.
At approximately 5:15 p.m., Goans walked out to the shop area in the No. 5 Entry and noticed that Meacham was lying on the ground near the tractor with his cap light pointing up. Since the pump motor was running, he thought there was something wrong with the tractor and Meacham was on the ground trying to repair it. As he started down the entry to see if he could assist Meacham with the repairs, he noticed Meacham was pinned under the tractor. The tractor had come to a stop against two material trailers parked in this area. The wheels of the tractor had not run over Meacham, but the upper portion of his chest, both arms, and his head were exposed from under the right side of the tractor. Goans checked Meacham for vital signs and found none. He immediately deenergized the tractor by striking the panic bar and ran to the face area for help. Paul Roberts, Shuttle Car Operator; David Ward, General Inside Laborer; and Mike Cluck, Faceman, came to the site of the accident and moved the tractor off Meacham.
Cluck and Roberts began CPR immediately, and Ward called for an ambulance. Grizzell helped Cluck with CPR when he arrived at the accident site. Roger Galloway, Maintenance Supervisor, arrived and helped Cluck and Grizzell with CPR. Meacham was placed on a backboard, and CPR was continued as he was transported to the surface where MedStar Ambulance Service was waiting. Meacham was transported to the Sparta Hospital where they determined his injuries were of such nature that he needed to be airlifted to St. Louis University Hospital. He was pronounced dead at 10:02 p.m. at St. Louis University Hospital. The cause of death was massive trauma to the pelvic area. There were no eyewitnesses to this accident.
MSHA was notified of the accident at 6:20 p.m. on April 8, 1996, and an investigation began immediately.
PHYSICAL FACTORS INVOLVED
- The S&S battery tractor was a Model 320, Serial Number 103,
Approval Number 2G-2541.
- The S&S battery tractor was used to transport rockdusters
throughout the mine and had a MSA slinger rockduster
connected to it at the time of the accident.
- The MSA slinger rockduster was connected to the rear of the
battery tractor. With the rockduster connected to the rear
of the tractor, the power cable from the rockduster would
not reach the power take off receptacle on the tractor to
allow the rockduster to be used. Due to this fact, it is
believed Meacham was in the process of turning the tractor
around. The rockduster is normally connected to the front
of the tractor when it is being used to rockdust.
- The tractor was stopped on a descending grade three
crosscuts outby the loading point of Unit 1. The entry was
approximately 20 feet wide, 7 feet high, and the mine floor
was dry in this area. This was the area where the victim
was to begin rockdusting.
- The area of the mine where the accident occurred has a 5
percent grade from the west to the east in the No. 5 Entry
from Station 6+10 to Station 4+80. The victim was found at
- The lights were on and the pump motor was running when the
victim was found under the tractor.
- It could not be determined if Meacham had set the automatic
emergency parking brake prior to the accident.
- The battery tractor was equipped with a Lee Brakes, Inc.
HD146D-06-M/MH modular emergency-parking brake system. This
emergency-parking brake system was not operational at the
time of the accident.
- The battery tractor service brake was operational at the
time of the accident. The tractor was equipped with a Mico
lever lock in the service brake system. The Mico lever lock
was operational at the time of the accident. However, the
condition of the Mico lever indicated that it was not being
- An attempt to adjust the brake caliper was made on
Wednesday, April 3, 1996, prior to the accident on April 8,
1996. When having the electrician demonstrate the procedure
used on April 3, it was noted that the proper procedure had
not been used. The caliper was not disarmed before
adjustments were made.
- The Lee brake system caliper was removed from this tractor
and sent to MSHA's Approval and Certification Center's Mine
Equipment Branch Laboratory in Triadelphia, West Virginia,
for testing. These tests were performed with a hand pump.
The test revealed that when the caliper was properly armed,
it would clamp to a piece of 1/2 inch stock similar to the
brake disk on the tractor.
- The Lee brake system caliper was taken to the DOL, National
Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beckley, West Virginia.
The caliper was installed in an S/S battery scoop. The
scoop would stop when the caliper was fully armed. When the
locking nut was turned counterclockwise 1 3/4 turns, the
scoop would not stop.
- Through the course of interviewing mine personnel, it was
determined that the Lee brake system was not installed per
the manufacturer's specifications, nor was the proper
procedure as recommended by the manufacturer followed to
make adjustments to the brake caliper.
- Also through the course of interviews, it was determined
that mine personnel who performed maintenance and operated
this tractor were unaware of all the ways to set and release
the emergency-parking brake. They were unaware that the
emergency-parking brake could be set and released with the
park valve located near the panic bar.
- During the investigation it was found that a Lee Brake, Inc. bypass update kit (A54229D) had not been installed on this tractor. Without this kit the automatic emergency parking brake will not activate if any hydraulic function, such as the power take-off is either stuck or left in the "on" position, causing back pressure in the system.
The accident occurred when the victim stopped the battery tractor on a descending grade. The victim was out of the tractor preparing to rockdust when the battery tractor began to roll down the descending grade. The victim was pinned in an area that measured 7 3/4 inches between the mine floor and the bottom of the tractor. The tractor stopped when it ran into two supply trailers parked in this area. Contributing factors to the cause of the accident were that the tractor was not equipped with an operational automatic emergency-parking brake system and that mine personnel were not familiar with the operation and maintenance of this system. The cause of death was massive trauma to the pelvic area. There were no eyewitnesses to this accident.
The following order and citation were issued to Old Ben Coal Company as a result of the investigation:
- A 103(k) order No. 4575810 was issued to insure the
safety of all miners in the mine until the completion
of the accident investigation.
- A 104(a) citation No. 4265907 was issued for a violation of 30 CFR Section 75.523-3 (b)(4). The automatic emergency-parking brake would not hold the battery tractor stationary on the grade of the mine floor at the site of the accident.
Respectfully submitted by:
Steven M. Miller
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
David L. Whitcomb
James K. Oakes
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