DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
REPORT OF INVESTIGATION
(UNDERGROUND COAL MINE)
FATAL OTHER (HAND TOOLS) ACCIDENT
Stockton Mine (Portals #1 and #130)
Cannelton Industries, Inc.
Cannelton, Kanawha County, West Virginia
April 20, 1996
Jerry E. Sumpter
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 Stockton mine (Portals #1 and #130) is an underground mine operated by Cannelton Industries, Inc. The mine is located at Cannelton, Kanawha County, West Virginia. The mine has 13 drift openings into the Stockton coal seam, which averages 84 inches in height. Employment is provided for 175 persons, 172 of whom work underground on two production shifts and one maintenance shift, 5 to 6 days a week. The mine produces an average of 12,000 tons of coal from four continuous-mining sections each day. Coal is transported from the working sections to the surface via belt conveyors. Miners and supplies are transported by trolley-powered, track-mounted haulage equipment. The immediate mine roof is comprised of laminated shale and sandstone and is supported by 4-foot and 6-foot resin-grouted bolts, supplemented with 8- by 8-inch bearing plates. The supports are to be installed on 4-foot lengthwise and 4- to 5-foot crosswise spacing. The main headings and panels have been developed on 60- by 80-foot centers. The depth of the cover over the coalbed is approximately 300 feet. Ventilation is induced into the mine by a 6-foot blowing fan producing about 480,000 cubic feet of air per minute. Methane gas has not been detected. The last Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) AAA inspection was completed on March 12, 1996.
STORY OF EVENT
On Saturday, April 20, 1996, at 12:01 a.m., the midnight crew, under the supervision of Paul Brown, entered the mine to begin installation of a new belt drive at the Southwest Mains No. 14C belt haulage system. The new No. 14D belt drive haulage system was to be installed 80 feet outby survey station No. 2342 in the crosscut between the Nos. 2 and 3 entries. The crosscut was approximately 8 feet high and 20 feet wide.
Curtis Smallman, continuous-miner operator; Shannon Roat, general laborer; and Jimmie Craze, scoop operator; commenced cleaning the area of loose coal in preparation of installing the belt drive assembly. Clean up and installation of the belt drive assembly continued through the shift without incident until about 4:30 a.m. Smallman (victim) was working on the left side of the belt drive assembly preparing to level the belt drive. Smallman determined that he needed to obtain a lift jack and a lever bar to raise and level the belt drive.
According to witnesses at the accident site, Smallman obtained a jack and lever bar (7/8-inch drill steel 59 inches long) from a nearby parked man-trip vehicle. Both Smallman and Roat used the two 5-ton Simplex jacks to raise the belt head up at the same time. A lever bar, measuring 59 inches in length and 7/8 inch in diameter, was obtained from within close proximity of the belt drive. Framing boards were being used to raise, support, and level the belt drive. According to Roat and Brown, when Smallman commenced raising the jack, the jack dropped several inches. Smallman commented that the jack was not working properly. Smallman then tried jacking the belt drive the second time and commented the jack began working. Brown was located with Roat on the opposite side of the belt drive helping raise the metal structure.
The belt drive was then raised with the jacks from both sides of the belt drive, at the same time, to level it and to slide the curtain boards underneath the belt head to keep it raised and level. According to Craze, he was located on the opposite side of the main belt haulage system handing the curtain boards to both Roat and Smallman. The main belt was not energized. At 5:00 a.m., Brown, Craze, and Roat observed Smallman lying unconscious inby his work area on the left walkway side of the belt head. Hill, an EMT, was summoned to the accident site where he was assisted by Brown and the rest of the working crew to safely transport Smallman to the track haulage system. Smallman was transported to the surface via a rubber-tired man trip. He was transported via Valley Ambulance service to the Montgomery General Hospital. Smallman was conscious during the transport to Montgomery General Hospital and was admitted to the emergency room in stable condition.
The victim's condition started to deteriorate shortly after 7:00 a.m., and arrangements were made to transport him to the Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC). He was transported at 8:55 a.m. and arrived at 9:18 a.m. The victim was admitted to CAMC and surgery was performed to relieve cranial pressure. He was transferred to the intensive care unit where he remained in critical condition. The victim expired at 10:54 a.m. on April 21, 1996, and was pronounced dead by Dr. Frederick H. Armburst, the attending physician. The immediate cause of death was acute craniocerebral injury.
INVESTIGATION OF ACCIDENT
MSHA was notified at 9:30 a.m. on April 20, 1996, that an accident resulting in serious injury had occurred. MSHA personnel arrived at the mine at 12:30 p.m. A 103(k) Order was issued to ensure safety of the miners until the accident investigation could be completed. MSHA and the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training jointly conducted an investigation with the assistance of mine management and the miners.
All parties were briefed by mine management personnel as to the circumstances surrounding the accident. Representatives from all parties traveled to the accident scene where a preliminary examination of the accident was conducted. Photographs and relevant measurements were taken and sketches were made at the accident site. On April 20, 1996, representatives of all parties returned to the accident scene to conduct further tests and examinations on the belt head assembly.
Interviews of individuals known to have knowledge of the facts surrounding the accident were conducted at the Lady Dunn Preparation Plant's conference office on April 22, 1996, at 10:00 a.m. The 103(k) Order was terminated on April 23, 1996.
Training records indicated annual refresher training was conducted on February 24, 1996, in accordance with Part 48, Title 30 CFR. Task training was received by the victim on February 24, 1996, on proper procedures to install belt drives.
According to the mine examiner's report, a proper preshift of the accident area was conducted prior to work being performed.
- The mining height at the scene of the accident was about 7
feet. The mining width of the new belt entry was 18 feet 11-1/2 inches.
- The belt drive assembly being installed was a Long-Airdox
Model T21442, Serial No. 351082.
- The area where the belt drive was to be set had to be
cleaned up before other work could be performed according to
the testimony of Jimmie Craze, scoop operator.
- The electrical power had not been connected at the 100 amp
- The plan was to install the belt drive so that it would dump
onto the Southwest Mains belt haulage system, the No. 14C
belt. The new belt setup would be called No. 14D belt
- Two 5-ton Model 84A Simplex jacks were utilized to raise and
level the Long-Airdox belt head assembly.
- Two pieces of 7/8-inch hollow drill steel were used as the
lifting bars for the 5-ton Simplex jacks.
- The Simplex jacks were positioned on both sides of the front
belt drive. The drive was to be jacked up and fly boards
installed under the drive in order to level the drive and
provide enough clearance for the drive to dump onto the No.
14C belt haulage system.
- There were no eyewitnesses to the accident.
- During the interview, Jimmie Craze revealed the victim had
complained that the 5-ton Simplex lifting jack was not
working properly. The jack had apparently slipped a few
inches prior to the accident. The mine operator did not
have a policy in place concerning proper use of this type
lifting jack. The company did not have or was never
furnished a copy of the safety precautions from Simplex.
- According to Brown and Craze, the 5-ton Simplex jack used by
Smallman was removed from a man-trip vehicle parked nearby.
- The lever bar used to raise the belt head assembly with the
Simplex jack was a 7/8-inch hollow piece of drill steel 59
inches in length.
- It is not known if the victim was raising the belt head
assembly or lowering it when the accident occurred.
According to witnesses, the victim was struck on the right
side of the head and temple area, causing a large
- The victim was unconscious for a short period of time, but
regained consciousness after arriving on the surface of the
- According to the physician's report that Smallman signed at
the hospital, he was setting a belt head when the jack bar
flew out from the side of the belt head, striking him on the
right side of the head.
- According to the behavior of the victim after the accident,
management did not think the injury was serious.
- After calling Montgomery General Hospital, management was
told the injury was not serious. According to Craze, when he
went to the hospital, he observed that Smallman was
conscious and talking to his wife.
- Donnie Rutherford, day-shift foreman, was notified of the
accident by Robert Hill. Rutherford called Jack Hatfield,
safety manager, at home and informed him of the accident.
Rutherford told Hatfield that the hospital medical staff had
told him the accident was not life threatening.
Approximately 9:00 a.m., Hatfield told Rutherford to go to
the accident scene and get the 5-ton Simplex jack and
lifting bar. During interviews conducted, Hatfield stated
he removed the jack and bar, because if something was wrong
with the jack, he did not want anyone else injured with the
jack or bar.
- Shortly after 8:10 a.m., the victim's injury progressively
worsened, and the staff at Montgomery General Hospital
decided to have the victim transported to the Charleston
Area Medical Center (CAMC). Upon arrival at CAMC, Dr.
Frederick H. Armburst immediately decided surgery was
necessary. The victim was listed in very critical condition
and was placed in the intensive care unit. On Sunday, April
21, 1996, at about 10:54 a.m., the victim expired as a
result of acute craniocerebral injuries.
- The 5-ton Simplex jack involved in the fatal accident was
taken to the MSHA Approval and Certification Center, Mine
Equipment Branch, Triadelphia, West Virginia, where tests
and examinations were conducted. Following are the
- The Simplex 5-ton lifting jack was not lubricated in
accordance with the Simplex operating instruction
manual for the jack.
- Grease or oil was observed on the top pawl near the
tooth area. Material was also caked on the side of the
lower pawl. The presence of this material and other
caked material inside the barrel of the lifting jack
indicates a lack of maintenance.
- A substantial amount of caked material was found in the barrel of the lifting jack. This foreign material could possibly foul the pawls of the rack bar and cause the lifting jack to malfunction.
- The Simplex 5-ton lifting jack was not lubricated in accordance with the Simplex operating instruction manual for the jack.
The accident and resultant fatality occurred because proper functioning tools necessary to safely perform the task of raising the Long-Airdox belt structure were not provided. The victim attempted to perform the task with a jack that had previously indicated mechanical failure.
A 104(a) Citation was issued, stating in part that the 5-ton Simplex jack and a 7/8-inch piece of hollowed drill steel were inadequate. The bar was not the proper size in diameter and length according to the manufacturer's specifications. This was a violation of Section 75.1725(a), 30 CFR.
Respectfully submitted by:
Jerry E. Sumpter
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Richard J. Kline
Assistant District Manager
Earnest C. Teaster, Jr.
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin: