DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
REPORT OF INVESTIGATION
(UNDERGROUND COAL MINE)
FATAL ROOF-FALL ACCIDENT
Maple Meadow Mine (ID No. 46-03374)
Maple Meadow Mining Company
Fairdale, Raleigh County, West Virginia
June 26, 1996
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 Maple Meadow Mine, Maple Meadow Mining Company, is located at Fairdale, Raleigh County, West Virginia. The mine is developed from the surface by one slope and four shafts. The mine is in the Beckley seam that averages 84 inches in height.
The mine opened in May 1974. Employment is provided for 390 employees on two production shifts and one maintenance shift, with the mine producing coal 7 days a week. The mine produces an average of 7,500 tons of raw material daily from five continuous- mining-machine sections, with two spare sections.
Coal is transported from the sections to the surface via belt conveyors. The immediate roof consists of shale and the main roof of sandstone and is primarily supported with 60-inch fully grouted resin bolts. The roof bolts are installed on 4-foot lengthwise and 4- to 5-foot crosswise spacing with 6- by 6-inch bearing plates. Ventilation is induced at this mine by four exhausting fans and one bleeder fan. At the No. 1 shaft, an 84- inch fan produces 437,858 cubic feet of air a minute (CFM). At the No. 2 shaft, an 84-inch fan produces 578,618 CFM. At the No. 3 shaft, another 84-inch fan produces 1,203,840 CFM. At the No. 4 shaft an 88-inch fan produces 194,940 CFM. The No. 1 bleeder fan, a 56-inch fan produces 36,869 CFM. During the last AAA inspection completed on June 19, 1996, by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), 3,004,285 cubic feet of methane was liberated per 24-hour period. The existing roof control plan was approved by MSHA on August 30, 1994.
DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT
James C. Herron, section foreman on the 2144 section, and his crew departed from the surface at 6:55 a.m. The crew traveled on the elevator to the bottom of the mine portal where they loaded onto track-mounted, battery-powered man trips and traveled to the section. Arriving on the section at 7:35 a.m., Herron discussed a portion of the roof control plan with the crew at the dinner hole. He then proceeded to the face areas (pillar line); met with Mike Miller, the third-shift foreman; checked the face areas; and held a discussion with Miller regarding mining activities on the third shift. Herron traveled back to the dinner hole and informed the crew that mining activities would commence in the No. 14 lift of the No. 132 pillar block. Mining activities commenced around 7:55 a.m. from the No. 3 entry in the No. 14 lift of the 132 pillar block. Upon completion of the No. 14 lift, the miner crew moved to the No. 15 lift of the 131 pillar. Problems were encountered with the coal feeder while mining these lifts and repair work was done, and the feeder was operated manually as needed. Also, a hydraulic fitting was broken off the left side ripper jack assembly and had to be replaced. These repairs took about 20 minutes. After repairs were made, mining commenced in the No. 16 and 17 lifts and on to the pushout of Pillar 131. The actual mining only got two lifts from the crosscut of Pillar 131 and then went to the pushout on Pillar 131.
During mining of the pushout, the mine floor had to be loaded out in conjunction with the pushout to prevent the remote-control continuous-mining machine from hanging up when the coal bottom broke up. Coal bottom was encountered at different locations on this section. At about 11:00 a.m., while loading the fourth shuttle car of coal from the pushout, the section foreman, who was located in the crosscut on the left side of the mining machine observing the mine roof, heard a crack or thump, and the mine roof began to fall. The continuous-mining-machine operator, Troy E. Henderson, and the continuous-mining-machine helper, Dan Taylor, were positioned inby the corner of the outby pillar block, when the mine roof started to fall right to left in the crosscut and through the intersection at the final pushout. Both the operator and helper started to run. Taylor was hit by a piece of rock and knocked to the mine floor. He could not see anything due to the dust generated by the fall of roof. Taylor stated that he heard Troy Henderson say, "Get me out from under here." When the dust subsided, Taylor saw Troy Henderson underneath the falling rock, called for help, and proceeded to remove a rock from the victim's head and shoulder area. Larry Reedy, who was a roof-bolting-machine operator and an EMT, came to the scene and checked the victim for vital signs. None were found. The section foreman notified surface personnel, via telephone, of the accident and requested assistance. He then traveled back to the area of the fall, where he directed the crew to obtain more timbers and material to secure the area for safety reasons. Additional timbers were set and lifting jacks were used to remove the victim. After the victim was removed and placed on a stretcher, he was transported to the surface. Upon arriving on the surface, he was placed in the care of the Trap Hill Volunteer Fire Department and transported to the Raleigh General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
INVESTIGATION OF ACCIDENT
The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) was notified at 11:40 a.m. on June 26, 1996, that a fatal roof-fall accident had occurred. MSHA personnel arrived at the mine at 12:30 p.m. A 103(k) Order was issued to ensure the safety of the miners.
MSHA and the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training jointly conducted the investigation with the assistance of mine management personnel, the miners, and representatives of the miners.
All parties were briefed by mine management personnel as to the circumstances surrounding the accident.
On June 26, 1996, representatives from all parties conducted the on-site portion of the investigation. Photographs were taken and relevant measurements and sketches were made of the accident site.
Interviews of individuals known to have direct knowledge of the facts surrounding the accident were conducted at the Maple Meadow Mining Company training office at Fairdale, West Virginia, on June 27, 1996.
The physical portion of the investigation was completed June 27, 1996, and the 103(k) Order was terminated.
Records indicate that training had been conducted in accordance with 30 CFR, Part 48.
An examination of Mr. Henderson's training records revealed that he had received all required training.
The approved roof control plan allows the following types of roof bolts to be used at the mine: conventional, full-grout, tension- grout, and combination bolt systems.
The mine roof in the area where the accident occurred, as well as other areas on the section, was supported with 60-inch full-grout bolts.
The roof bolts were installed on 4- to 5-foot crosswise and 4- foot lengthwise spacing as required by the approved roof control plan.
Investigators observed that the timbers being utilized on the section where pillar recovery work was being performed, were set as required by the approved roof control plan, to the extent that the area was accessible. The roof conditions and size of the fall prevented investigators from seeing where the timbers were set around the pushout.
Entries and crosscuts were developed 20 feet wide in accordance with the approved roof control plan. Second mining was being performed in the area where the accident occurred.
A Joy 14CM15 continuous-mining machine that was equipped with a remote-control system was used on the 2144 section. Depths of cuts were limited to 20 feet.
The fall at the accident site measured 30 feet wide, an undetermined length due to the pillar line, and 4 inches to 7 feet in thickness.
The pillars on this section were on 70- by 90-foot centers and normally controlled the roof.
Maps of the 2144 section showed some blocks inby the pillar line partially mined, and others fully mined on the same row of blocks. This area had poor roof conditions and forced the operator to leave coal where unstable roof was encountered.
There were no indications of excessive pressure on the pillars in the immediate area surrounding the roof fall or the rest of this section. Some minor floor heave was observed in the immediate area, but not elsewhere on the section.
The mine roof was bolted with 5-foot resin-grouted bolts.
Due to the size of the fall, the exact location of all timbers set for mining the pushout could not be determined. People interviewed said that the timbers were set according to the plan.
The final pushout normally consisted of 10 to 12 shuttle cars of coal.
Parts of Pillars 131 and 132 were mined 7 hours previous to mining on the day shift. With the mine roof standing, the lifts in Pillars 131 and 132 were then mined before the pushout of No. 131.
The location of the continuous-mining machine operator/helper, while mining the final pushout, was just inby the corner of the outby pillar.
Coal bottom was being mined throughout this section, including the final pushout of the 131 pillar block, to prevent the continuous-mining machine from hanging up.
A Joy 14CM15 continuous-mining machine with radio-remote control was being used.
The Joy 14CM15 continuous-mining machine was covered in a roof fall a week prior to this accident. It was being trammed out of an area where the roof was working. The remote operator was in a safe location when an intersection fell on the miner.
The fatal accident occurred as a result of a premature roof fall caused by a combination of poor roof conditions and extended time to mine Pillar 131, which sat 7 hours between shifts. The operator and helper were located inby the corner of the outby pillar block when, with little or no warning, the mine roof caved right to left in the crosscut and through the intersection at the final pushout, causing fatal crushing injuries to the continuous- mining-machine operator.
There were no contributing violations of 30 CFR cited during the investigation of the fatal roof-fall accident.
Respectfully submitted by:
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Richard J. Kline
Assistant District Manager
Earnest C. Teaster, Jr.
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