DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REPORT
(SURFACE COAL MINE)
FATAL FALL of SPOIL BANK
(Fall of Highwall)
THE HARRIMAN COAL CORPORATION (I.D. NO. 36-06990)
LINCOLN STRIP OPERATION
LINCOLN, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
MAY 17, 1999
COAL MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH INSPECTOR
JOSEPH W. FISHER
COAL MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH INSPECTOR
MICHAEL L. SCHUMAKER, P.E.
ORIGINATING OFFICE - MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
7 NORTH WILKES-BARRE BLVD., SUITE 034, WILKES-BARRE, PA 18702
GLENN R. TINNEY, DISTRICT MANAGER
The Lincoln Stripping operation, I.D. No. 36-06990, an anthracite surface mine operation, is operated by The Harriman Coal Corporation. The operation is located one half mile east of Lincoln, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.
The principal management officers of the mine at the time of the accident were:
Lynn D. Stutzman..................................Safety Director
The mine employed 23 miners at one producing pit, working one shift per day (6:00 am to 2:30 pm), five days per week. This mine produces 180 tons of anthracite coal daily.
The last complete MSHA Safety and Health Inspection was conducted on February 3, 1999.
DESCRIPTION OF THE ACCIDENT
On Monday, May 17, 1999, at 5:30 am Randy Reidler, Foreman, arrived at the mine site. Reidler stated that upon his arrival at the site, he opened the gate and initially inspected the dump area. The dump area which is located across the road (Twp. Rt. 625) and just Southwest of the North spoil bank consisted of raw coal storage and back-filling operations. Reidler also stated that he observed the North spoil bank and it looked stable.
Quinn Lickman, Superintendent, arrived at the mine at approximately 6:00 am and inspected the work areas. He met Reidler at the road crossing at approximately 6:15 am and discussed the daily work activities before traveling to another mine.
On Monday, May 17, 1999 the miners began their normal work shift at 6:00 am. The pre- operational inspection of the equipment was conducted by the equipment operators. The employees had worked at excavating the North spoil bank for the previous two weeks. Lickman initially had directed the workforce to ramp up 50 feet and create a bench off the North spoil bank working from West to East. William Kroh, was assigned to operate the Caterpillar 5130 hydraulic shovel/backhoe (excavator). The Caterpillar 5130 was configured and operating as a shovel. Kroh informed Reidler that he did not need the Caterpillar D10 Dozer which was parked at the right side of the excavator. At this time, Mark Gonder, Dozer Operator, was instructed to take the dozer to the dump area.
Kroh trammed the excavator from an area Southwest of the spoil bank up to the face area of the North spoil bank. Two 777 D Caterpillar haulage trucks were being used to haul the excavated spoil material at the onset of the work shift. Prior to the accident Kroh informed the foreman that he was waiting too long between trucks and requested another truck be put in service. Upon this request, a third 777 D haulage truck was put in service.
At approximately 10:30 am, Ken Moyer, Lube Technician, began refueling the equipment. Moyer was behind schedule with the refueling due to a flat tire on the service truck. Moyer stated that he usually refuels the haulage trucks first, which is accomplished at the dump area across from the North spoil bank. At about 10:45, Moyer had just finished refueling one of the 777 D Cat trucks when he looked over to the North spoil bank and saw the bank slump down on the Caterpillar 5130 shovel. Moyer yelled to Reidler, who had been loading coal trucks from the unprepared coal stockpile located directly across from the Caterpillar 5130 shovel. Moyer told Reidler that the bank had just slid down and covered up Kroh. Reidler called for Kroh on the two way radio but could not get any response.
Q. Lickman stated he heard his pager go off. He looked at the pager and saw Reidler's number. Q. Lickman heard his pager the second time. When he glanced at the pager and saw 911 he realized there was something wrong and contacted Reidler by radio. Reidler briefed Q. Lickman on the accident. Q. Lickman directed Reidler to radio for help. Reidler then called for help on his radio. Moyer and Leslie Rice, Truck Driver, initially began rescue and recovery operations. After calling for help on his radio Reidler assisted in recovery operations. Q. Lickman arrived at the site and also aided in the recovery.
Kroh was completely buried with rock and dirt from the collapse of the spoil bank. The recovery personnel were able to manually remove part of the material from the cab area. The rear window of the operators cab had to be knocked out in order to gain access to the inside. Work continued until the victim's head and arm were exposed. The victim was non-responsive and no pulse could be detected. Mine rescue personnel from Tremont Emergency Medical Services, Joliett Fire Co., and Ravine Fire Co. began arriving at the accident site at approximately 11:00 am and assumed rescue and recovery operations.
Kroh was extracted from the Caterpillar 5130 shovel at approximately 1:30 PM and was pronounced dead at 1:36 PM by Robert P. Berger, Deputy Coroner for the county of Schuylkill, Pottsville, PA. Kroh's body was transported by ambulance to the Warne Clinic at the Pottsville Hospital where an autopsy was performed.
- The area where the accident occurred was called the North spoil bank which consisted of a combination of fine soil and small to large rocks.
- The North spoil bank was approximately 1200 feet in length, and ran in an East to West
direction. The bank was about 350 feet wide at the West end and about 500 feet wide at
the East end.
- A bench was being excavated into the North spoil bank to assist in keeping spoil material from sliding or rolling on to a public highway (No. 625 Township Road) located at the
toe of the spoil bank.
- The bench was being excavated approximately 50 feet above the surface of the highway,
and approximately 80 feet below the top of the spoil bank. The bench was determined to
be 40 feet wide.
- The average slope of the North spoil bank, beginning at the toe of the bank near the
highway and up to the top of the bank was approximately 35 degrees.
- At the time of the accident, Kroh, the victim was excavating a bench with a Caterpillar
5130 shovel. He was working adjacent to the spoil bank, when a substantial portion of
unstable slope, created by the excavation, fell on the cab, burying him.
- The cab height of the Caterpillar 5130 shovel was 22 feet. The height of the unstable
slope of the spoil bank was approximately 80 feet above the bench and approximately 58
feet higher than the cab of the hydraulic shovel, and approximately 39 feet above the
reach of the shovel.
- The operator's cab of the Caterpillar 5130 shovel was not positioned away from the
unstable material. The cab of the Caterpillar 5130 shovel was positioned adjacent to the
unstable excavated slope and parallel to the bank which placed the operator about 8 � feet
from the unstable slope, when the accident occurred.
- The Caterpillar 5130 shovel was working approximately 300 feet in from the Western
most end of the pile and 24 feet from the edge of the berm on the outer edge of the
benching operation when the accident occurred. The width of the bench in this area was
about 40 feet.
- The failure area was approximately 100 feet wide at the bottom and 70 feet wide at the
top. The depth of the failure varied from 2' - 10'.
- The face of the bank, after the failure, resulted in slopes at three distinct angles. The
bottom third of the bank was sloped to about 40 degrees, the middle third at 35 degrees
and the top third at 60 degrees. Most of the slope created by the excavation, including the
failure area was unstable.
- The certified person conducting the examination of the North spoil bank work area
failed to report and correct the potential hazard created by this method of excavation.
- There was no specific reference to the condition of the spoil bank noted in the daily
examination log book.
- The mine operator's ground control plan did not include a method for safely excavating spoil bank material.
The direct cause of the accident was the partial collapse of the approximately 80 feet high unstable slope caused by the excavation of the North spoil bank. The unstable slope was created while establishing a bench on the Southwest end of the North spoil bank. The procedures being utilized exceeded the safe operating reach of the Caterpillar Model 5130 hydraulic shovel.
Order No. 7001556, was issued under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, Section 103(k) to assure the safety of any persons on the surface until an examination or investigation was made to determine that the area was safe.
Citation No. 7000505, was issued under Section 104(d)(1) for violation of 30 CFR 77.1713(a) because the certified person conducting the daily examinations of the work area failed to report and correct a hazardous condition at the Northern spoil pile where a Caterpillar 5130 shovel was working.
Order No. 7000506, was issued under Section 104(d)(1) for violation of 30 CFR 77.1000 because the mine operator's ground control plan dated August 14, 1998 was not adequate to address the bench operation on the Northern spoil pile.
Order No. 7000507, was issued under Section 104(d)(1) for violation of 30 CFR 77.1003 because the mine operator failed to insure safe operation at the bench development site of the Northern spoil pile.
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Joseph W. Fisher John J. Podgurski Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Acting District Manager
John J. Podgurski
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin: