DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REPORT
(Underground Coal Mine)
FATAL FALL OF ROOF ACCIDENT
BEEFHIDE #2 MINE (I.D. NO. 15-17738)
SOUTH AKERS MINING COMPANY, LLC
MYRA, PIKE COUNTY, KENTUCKY
SEPTEMBER 16, 1999
GAREY L. FARMER
COAL MINE SAFETY & HEALTH INSPECTOR
Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
4159 North Mayo Trail, Pikeville, Kentucky, 41501
Carl E. Boone, II, District Manager
Release Date: December 16, 1999
The South Akers Mining Company, LLC, Beefhide #2 Mine, is located on Osborne Branch 1/4 mile off U.S. Route 610 near Myra, Pike County, Kentucky. The company officials include: Harold Akers and Jim Akers, owners, and Sherman Combs, safety director. South Akers Mining Company, LLC, is a sub-lease of Premier Elkhorn Coal Company. The Elkhorn # 2 coal seam, which averages 42 inches in thickness, is entered through four drift openings. The room and pillar method of mining is employed to develop a series of panels, six entries wide, with entries and crosscuts advanced on 60 foot centers and maximum opening widths of 20 feet. Transportation of employees to the 001-0 working section is via battery-powered, rubber-tired personnel carriers.
The 001-0 section utilizes a Joy 14-9 CM remote controlled continuous mining machine with cut depths of 20 to 30 feet. Coal is conveyed from the face to the section belt by two Joy 21 SC shuttle cars and one Joy 10 SC shuttle car.
The mine employs 30 persons underground and four on the surface. The mine operates two production shifts and one maintenance shift per day, five to six days a week, producing an average of 1200 tons of coal per day. At the time of the accident the working section was using a remote controlled continuous mining machine conducting retreat mining.
The immediate mine roof consists of 1 to 6 feet of sandy shale. The main roof consists of sandstone with a maximum cover of 400 feet.
Roof support is provided by 36-inch long fully-grouted rods installed with a double-head Fletcher roof bolter, Model RRII, on a 4-foot by 4-foot maximum pattern. The Roof Control Plan, was approved on December 2, 1997, and supplemented on January 28, 1999, to contain specific provisions for retreat mining utilizing a two-cut or three-cut pillar recovery method with 30- foot deep cuts.
A regular Safety and Health Inspection (AAA) was started on July 19, 1999, and was ongoing at the time of the accident.
At approximately 1 PM, September 16, 1999, David Sturgill, evening- shift section foreman, entered the mine and traveled to the active 001-0 working section. Upon arrival on the section, Sturgill met with Paul Clevinger, mine foreman and day-shift section foreman. Clevinger and Sturgill discussed the method of mining and the general conditions of the section. They discussed the mining of the solid coal rib in the No. 1 Entry. The mine floor in the No. 1 Entry was uneven and contained a depression in the intersection one crosscut outby the line of crosscuts being utilized to haul coal through. Clevinger and Sturgill decided that the depression in the mine floor would create problems for the shuttle cars to haul through. Clevinger had already instructed John Gillispie, day-shift continuous-miner operator, to take two miner lifts in the solid coal rib inby the line of crosscuts being used as the travelway. The continuous miner operator cut two sumps into the solid coal rib. At the conclusion of the day shift, Gillispie backed the continuous-miner into the crosscut between No. 1 and No. 2 entries (used as a travelway) and parked the machine. Prior to Clevinger leaving the section, he and Sturgill decided that the evening-shift crew would mine from the line of crosscuts being used as a travelway outby in the coal rib line in order to avoid the loss of coal in the rib line due the uneven mine floor.
At approximately 2:30 PM, the evening-shift crew entered the mine and traveled to the 001-0 working section. Sturgill instructed Ronnie Charles, evening-shift continuous miner operator, and David Ramey, continuous miner helper, to begin production in the No. 1 entry taking lifts from the left to right in the solid coal rib. Work proceeded with an area approximately thirty feet in width and approximately twenty-five to thirty feet in depth being mined. At approximately 4:15 PM, as the fourth lift was started and after three shuttle car loads of coal had been mined, David Ramey stated the mine roof bumped once. Ramey stated he shouted at Charles and started to run through the intersection into the crosscut. He stated he could see in his peripheral vision that Charles was following him out of the intersection. A fall of roof occurred covering Charles and knocking Ramey to his knees as he was escaping the area. The edge of the roof fall covered Ramey's feet and ankles. The roof fall occurred in the intersection sixty feet inby Survey Station Number 807, including portions of the lifts taken from the coal rib. Two attempts to lift the rock from Ramey's lower extremities were aborted due to working roof in the area. On the third attempt, Ramey's legs were freed and, although in pain, he began assisting in trying to locate Charles. There were no signs of Charles and no response when miners attempted to make verbal contact with him. Timbers and wooden cribs were then installed near the fall area.
At approximately 4:40 p.m., September 16, 1999, the MSHA District Office in Pikeville, Kentucky, was notified by Jim Akers, Operator, that a serious accident had occurred and that a miner was trapped by a roof fall. At that time no visual or verbal contact had been made with Charles. Personnel were contacted and dispatched to the mine. Upon arrival at the mine, a 103(K) Order was issued to ensure the safety of the miners until the recovery operations were completed and an investigation could be conducted. Recovery operations were initiated by MSHA personnel and personnel from the Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals (KDMM). Additional wooden posts and cribs were installed at the scene. Lifting jacks, as well as, air - assisted mat-jacks were utilized to raise the fallen roof material. The KDMM Mine Rescue team assisted by MSHA personnel recovered Charles' body at 8:15 PM. The victim's body was transported to the mine surface where Charles Morris, Pike County Coroner, pronounced Charles dead at 8:25 P.M.
David Ramey was transported to the mine surface after refusing any medical attention. Upon arrival on the mine surface, he left the mine site en route to his residence. While en route to his residence, Ramey decided that he should go to the hospital for examination. He drove himself to the Pikeville Methodist Hospital located at Pikeville, Kentucky. Ramey reported to the emergency room for examination and treatment due to pain in his arms, legs and feet. After sitting in the waiting area of the emergency room for several hours without being seen by a doctor, Ramey left the hospital and proceeded to his residence. The following morning with the assistance of his wife, Ramey returned to the same emergency room where he was examined and x-rays taken. Ramey's injuries consisted of bruises and contusions to his arms and legs. Ramey was sent home for rest and recuperation.
The Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals and MSHA jointly initiated an investigation with the assistance of mine management and the miners on September 16, 1999, following the recovery of the body. The miners did not request nor had representation during the investigation. Examination of the accident scene and the working section began on the following day. Interviews were conducted with each miner and management person employed at the mine.
- During advance mining in the accident area, 42 -inch long resin-grouted rods and six inch by six-inch metal bearing plates were installed for roof support.
- The roof fall occurred where the immediate roof strata changed from sandstone to shale at a point near the anchorage horizon zone of the 42 - inch long resin grouted rods (roof bolts) that were installed during development.
- Overall, roof conditions on the 001-0 working section showed a significant deterioration of the immediate roof and some pillar stress (spalling). The advance mining at the location of the roof fall was conducted on or about March 12, 1997.
- Cuts taken from the Numbers two, three, four and five pillars measured approximately thirty to thirty-five feet in width. The approved roof control plan requires that cuts not exceed twenty feet in width.
- Wooden breaker posts measured from one to three inches in thickness on the small side and three and one half inches on the wide side. The approved roof control plan requires that a post be a minimum of four inches in diameter.
- Several coal stumps were approximately four feet by four feet. The approved roof control plan requires that the minimum size of the coal stumps to be eight feet by eight feet.
- Six lifts had been taken from the left solid coal rib (roof control plan allows only two).
- There was one eyewitness to the accident.
- The mining height in the area of the accident ranged from forty-one to fifty inches.
- According to the statement of David Ramey, continuous miner helper, mining was stopped at one point to pull loose draw rock material from the mine roof in the intersection during the mining of the lifts.
- According to records of the mine operator, the victim had received all training required by 30 CFR, Part 48.
- Charles Morris, Pike County Coroner, listed the cause of death as massive internal injuries to head and chest.
- David Ramey, continuous miner helper, received bruises and contusions to the legs and arms as a result of the accident.
The primary cause of the accident was mine management's failure to follow the approved roof control plan while conducting retreat mining on the 001-0 working section.
Specific contributory acts to the accident included:
Faulty pillar recovery methods in the Number one entry on the left solid coal wall which included taking multiple cuts of coal adjacent to each other;
The practice of retreat mining of coal from a location which placed miners in a location that precluded them from having a safe means of traveling outby to safety;
Excessive pillar and barrier cut depths and widths.
As a result of the quantity of coal removed from the left solid coal rib near the intersection, the lateral or bearing pressures applied to the mine roof resulted in a roof fall.
- A 103(k) order, No. 4013962, was issued to ensure the safety of the miners until an investigation could be conducted.
- A 104(d) (1) Citation, No. 7365930, was issued for a violation of Title 30 CFR, Part 75.203(a).
- The mine operator conducted faulty recovery in the Number 1 entry of the 001-0 MMU, inby survey spad number 807. The Joy 14CM9 continuous miner was used to mine three ripper- wide cuts on the left (solid coal) barrier. The first cut measured eleven feet, six inches in width, and the three combined cuts measured thirty-five feet in width. The first three cuts were mined to a depth of approximately twenty-five to thirty feet and three 21SC shuttle cars had been loaded from the fourth cut. The sequence of there four cuts was from left to right (outby to inby). This method of mining placed person(s) inby a pillared area and created excessive widths in the immediate area of mining. The extensive cuts, combined with the intersection to create a substantial bearing pressure on the mine roof and coal pillars. Additional roof support (wooden posts or cribbing) had not been installed during mining of the cuts. The day-shift and evening shift section foreman had knowledge of the mining of the coal barrier on the left side of the number one entry. The evening shift foreman was present on the 001-0 MMU during mining activities and directed the workforce. This exposed the miner operator, miner-helper and two shuttle car operators to these conditions. These conditions contributed to the death of the continuous miner operator and injuries to the miner helper.
- A 104 (d) (1) Order, No. 7365931, was issued for a violation of Title 30 CFR, Part 75.220 (a).
- The approved roof control (pillar plan) was not being complied with on the 001-0 working section. A total of six cuts had been taken from the left side (solid coal) barrier, and the front (outby) side of the last row of blocks mined were cut from thirty to thirty-five feet in width. Page four of the approved roof control plan (dated 12-02-1997) limits the pillar split width to no more than twenty feet; page ten shows that only one cut is to be taken from the left side barrier; and page eleven shows a minimum stump of coal to be left as eight by eight feet. These contributed to the death of the continuous miner operator and injuries to the miner helper.
- A 104 (d) (1) Order, No. 7365932, was issued for a violation of Title 30 CFR, Part 75.363(a).
- The following hazardous conditions were observed on the 001-0 working ection: 1. Cuts taken out of the front of the pillar were approximately thirty to thirty-five feet in width. 2. The wooden posts used as breaker posts measured from one to three inches on the small side and three to three and one half inches on the wide side. 3. Coal stumps required to be left in place were not eight by eight feet in width as the plan requires. The stumps observed were approximately four feet by four feet in width. The hazardous conditions were neither corrected nor the area posted. These conditions contributed to the death of the continuous miner operator and injuries to the continuous miner helper.
Garey L. Farmer
Coal Mine Safety & Health Inspector
Carl E. Boone, II
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin: