DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
REPORT OF INVESTIGATION
FATAL ELECTRICAL ACCIDENT
Elk Run Coal Company, Inc.
Blue Pennant Coal Transfer Facility (ID No. 46-08108)
Powell Construction Company (ID No. U25)
GLW Construction Company, Inc.(ID No. PCW)
Whitesville, Boone County, West Virginia
May 13, 1997
Jerry E. Sumpter
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Billy R. Sloan
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector (Electrical)
Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
100 Bluestone Road, Mount Hope, WV 25880
Earnest C. Teaster, Jr., District Manager
Release Date: October 2, 1997
On Tuesday, May 13, 1997, at approximately 2:25 p.m., an electrical accident occurred at the Blue Pennant Coal Transfer Facility, resulting in the death of Clarence Ray Cameron, an employee of GLW Construction Company, Inc. Cameron had 20 years mining experience as a construction operator/laborer. The accident occurred while a P & H Omega 25-ton crane was being operated within 10 feet of an energized overhead power transmission line (12,470 VAC) while Cameron was holding onto the metal bucket containing concrete.
The Blue Pennant Coal Transfer Facility is operated by Elk Run Coal Company, Inc., and is located along Route 3 near Whitesville, Boone County, West Virginia. Employment is provided for a total of 20 miners who work on the surface. There are three production shifts which produce coal 6 to 7 days a week. The transfer belt transports an average of 600,000 tons of coal monthly and 25,000 tons daily. The surface overland belt conveyor has been in operation since January 4, 1993. This belt transfer provides a coal haulage system for the White Knight, Black Knight, and Twilight underground mines. Coal is dumped onto the transfer belt and transported through the Castle Mine to the Chess Processing Plant. All of the mines are owned and operated by Elk Run Coal Company, Inc.
Elk Run Coal Company, Inc., is a subsidiary of A. T. Massey Coal Company. The principal officers of Elk Run Coal Company, Inc., are James D. Slater, President; John Pearl, Vice-President; Fletcher A. Cooke, Secretary; and James S. Twigg, Treasurer. The principal officers of A. T. Massey Coal Company are Don L. Blankenship, President and Chairman of the Board; Fletcher A. Cooke, Secretary; David A. Ufew, Vice-President and Treasurer; and Paul S. Barbery, Senior Vice-President and General Counsel.
Powell Construction Company is a contractor performing construction work for Elk Run Coal Company, Inc., at the Blue Pennant Coal Transfer site. Seven employees from Powell Construction Company were working at the transfer point on the day of the fatal accident. Powell Construction Company's main corporate office address is 3622 Bristol Highway, Johnson City, TN 37601. This construction company has approximately 70 employees working at various construction sites on mine property at A. T. Massey Coal Company operations.
GLW Construction Company, Inc., is a subcontractor working for Powell Construction Company. Their address is listed as HCR 66, Box 48-B, Hico, WV 25854, and the company is owned and operated by Gerald Walker. The construction company employs 25 employees at different mine sites in Southern West Virginia, 5 of whom worked at the Blue Pennant Coal Transfer site on the day of the accident. GLW Construction Company, Inc., constructs and builds various concrete structures for Powell Construction Company. As the subcontractor, GLW Construction had been building concrete forms at the belt transfer for 4 weeks prior to the day of the fatal accident.
STORY OF EVENT
On Tuesday, May 13, 1997, Danny Dix, construction foreman for GLW Construction Company, Inc., talked briefly to his 4-man construction crew about their job assignments. At 7:00 a.m., the construction crew began their normal duties. The work assignment consisted of finishing the construction of concrete piers. After the pier forms were finished, concrete was poured for a new transfer belt installation.
Powell Construction Company's employees, under the direction of John Pansock, superintendent, gave out work assignments for the day to his 10-person construction crew. He instructed Danny Parker to assist GLW Construction employees at the Blue Pennant Coal Transfer construction site. Nine other construction employees were instructed at another work site away from the Blue Pennant Coal Transfer work site.
Work continued throughout the day without interruptions. At about 2:00 p.m., Danny Parker, a crane operator employed by Powell Construction Company, was assigned to another work site. Parker was relieved by James Williams, crane operator for Powell Construction, because Williams could not operate a larger crane. Williams and Clarence Cameron, construction general laborer, finished pouring the concrete piers about 2:15 p.m. Walley White, concrete truck driver, employed by Aracoma Ready Mix, Inc., had emptied his truck of concrete and was cleaning the truck to prepare to leave the mine site. Dix instructed Cameron to set the 1/2-yard concrete bucket, that was attached to the 25-ton P & H Crane, on the ground at the rear of the construction trailer for the remainder of the day. Robert Bohn, construction carpenter; David Hall, carpenter; and John Cameron, carpenter; all employed by GLW Construction Company, Inc., were using a concrete vibrator to compact the concrete piers located on the off side of the overland belt transfer structure. Clarence Cameron continued to direct the 25-ton crane toward the outby end of the construction trailer to dump the partially loaded bucket of concrete. Clarence Cameron signaled by hand to move the concrete bucket to the left side of the trailer. High-voltage transmission lines are located horizontally 30 feet from the construction trailer and 37.7 feet above the ground. Williams states he could not estimate how close the high-voltage lines were from the crane. The crane's boom was extended 57 feet in length at a 45-degree angle. According to White, prior to the accident, at approximately 2:25 p.m., he observed the crane's boom within close proximity of the high-voltage lines. Cameron had both of his hands on the metal concrete bucket which was raised approximately 2 to 3 feet off the ground. White states he heard a loud crack, and he observed Cameron (victim) lying on the ground on the right side of the metal concrete bucket. Williams moved the crane's boom away from the wires and alerted John Cameron, Hall, and Bohn that Clarence Cameron was injured. Bohn rushed to the accident site and administered CPR without response. The Whitesville Ambulance Service (911) was contacted about 2:32 p.m. and arrived at the accident scene about 2:47 p.m. The victim was transported to Charleston Area Medical Center, Charleston, West Virginia, and was pronounced dead on arrival by the attending Emergency Room physician, Dr. Parker.
INVESTIGATION OF ACCIDENT
The Mine Safety and Health Administration was notified at 3:05 p.m. on May 13, 1997, that a fatal electrical accident had occurred. Mine Safety and Health Administration personnel began to arrive at 3:30 p.m. A 103(k) Order was issued to ensure the safety of the miners until the accident investigation could be completed. The Mine Safety and Health Administration and the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training conducted an investigation with the assistance of management personnel and miners from Elk Run Coal Company, Inc., Powell Construction Company, and GLW Construction Company, Inc.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training conducted interviews of individuals known to have direct knowledge of the facts surrounding the accident. The interviews were conducted at the Elk Run Coal Company, Inc., training conference room located at Sylvester, Boone County, West Virginia, on May 14, 1997, at 12:00 p.m.
The physical portion of the investigation was completed on May 14, 1997, and the 103(k) Order was terminated.
- The crane being used was a 25-ton P & H Omega crane.
- The metal concrete bucket attached to the crane's hoist rope
had a capacity of 1/2 yard.
- Parker, the first crane operator, stated he warned the
ground spotter, John Cameron, and the miners in the area to
be alert of high-voltage transmission lines.
- According to witnesses interviewed, Williams changed out
with Parker as crane operator at 2:00 p.m. Parker had been
assigned to operate a larger crane at another construction
site. According to Williams, he helped finish pouring the
last bucket of concrete at the last pier concrete form.
- According to witnesses interviewed, the partial bucket of
concrete was not used and had to be dumped near the
construction trailer located in front of the 25-ton crane.
- According to White and Williams, the victim looked up at the
overhead power transmission lines (12,470 volts) several
- The overhead power transmission lines were 37.7 feet above
- The crane's boom was extended 57 feet in length at a 45-degree
angle and was approximately 41.3 feet above the ground.
- The victim had two hands on the metal concrete bucket and
intermittently would direct the crane operator with
standardized hoisting signals.
- Physical evidence indicated that the Jib Pin at the end of
the crane's boom contacted one phase conductor of the high-voltage
(12,470 volts) transmission line.
- There were various burned, charred, and etched marks on the
crane boom indicating contact with the high-voltage
transmission lines. No visible marks could be seen on the
- Three-phase electrical power for Elk Run Coal Company, Inc.,
is purchased from Appalachian Power Company at a voltage
level of 69,000 volts. At the main Blue Pennant substation,
the voltage is reduced to 12,470 volts for distribution to
the various entities. This transformation is accomplished
using a 7500 K.V.A. three-phase transformer with a delta-
connected primary and a wye-connected secondary. The
neutral of the wye-connected secondary is solidly grounded
to the substation ground field.
- The 12,470-volt distribution circuit is protected by the use
of a Westinghouse type PR recloser rated for a continuous
current of 560 amperes. Three Westinghouse type CO
overcurrent relays are used to provide overload and short-circuit
protection with current transformer ratios of 300:5
being utilized. Grounded-phase protection is provided using
a Westinghouse type CO relay and residual trip relaying.
The grounded-phase trip setting is 30 amperes of current
- When the crane contacted the transmission line, the high-voltage
circuit breaker operated and deenergized the circuit. The
indicating target flag of the grounded-phase relay was visible,
indicating the circuit breaker opened on a grounded phase.
- The overhead high-voltage transmission lines are composed of both 336 M.C.M. and No. 2 A.W.G., ACSR conductors. At the accident site, the conductors were No. 2 A.W.G.
The accident and resultant fatality occurred because the P & H Omega 25-ton crane was being operated within 10 feet of an energized overhead power transmission line. The victim was fatally electrocuted when the crane's boom contacted an overhead power transmission line while he was holding onto the metal bucket suspended by the crane's boom.
- A 103(k) Order, No. 4203854, was issued to ensure the safety
and health of the miners.
- A 104(a) Citation, No. 7160463, was issued to Powell
Construction Company for a violation of Title 30 CFR, Part
77.807-2, stating that during a fatal investigation,
physical evidence revealed that the Jib Pin located at the
end of the crane's boom contacted one phase conductor of the
transmission lines, causing fatal electrical injuries to the
victim. The boom of the crane was operated within 10 feet
of an energized overhead high-voltage (12,470 volt)
transmission line and contacted one phase conductor,
resulting in the victim being exposed to 7200-volt
- A 104(a) Citation, No. 7160465, was issued to GLW Construction Company, Inc., for a violation of Title 30 CFR, Part 77.807-2, stating that during a fatal investigation, physical evidence revealed that the Jib Pin located at the end of the crane's boom contacted one phase conductor of the transmission lines, causing fatal electrical injuries to the victim. The boom of the crane was operated within 10 feet of an energized overhead high-voltage (12,470 volt) transmission line and contacted one phase conductor, resulting in the victim being exposed to 7200-volt phase-to-ground voltage.
Respectfully submitted by:
Jerry E. Sumpter
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Billy R. Sloan
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Richard J. Kline
Assistant District Manager
Earnest C. Teaster, Jr.
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