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UNITED STATES
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION

Coal Mine Safety and Health

Report of Investigation

Underground Coal Mine

Fatal Fall of Roof

December 22, 1999


DiAnne Mine
Canterbury Coal Company
Maysville, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania
I.D. No. 36-05708

Accident Investigators

Joseph R. O'Donnell Jr.
Coal Mine Safety & Health Inspector

Donald W. Huntley Jr.
Coal Mine Safety & Health Inspector

Dan Baran
Coal Mine Safety & Health Inspector

William J. Gray
Mining Engineer


Originating Office
Mine Safety and Health Administration
District 2
RR 1, Box 736, Hunker, Pennsylvania 15639
Joseph J. Garcia, District Manager

Release Date: February 18, 2000


OVERVIEW

Robert J. Francisco, continuous-mining machine operator, began mining in the M2 Section in No. 23 room with a radio-remote continuous-mining machine. He had completed the extended cut mining on the right side of the room and was in the process of completing the remainder of the mining on the left side of the room. At approximately 5:10 p.m., Marvin Gromley, shuttle-car operator, trammed his shuttle car into the room to be loaded. As he trammed his shuttle car toward the conveyor boom of the continuous-mining machine, Francisco raised the boom when a roof fall occurred. The shuttle-car operator ran toward the continuous-mining machine where he observed the mining-machine operator under the fallen section of mine roof.

The fatality occurred because the victim was exposed to unsupported roof while operating the continuous-mining machine. Factors contributing to this exposure are discussed in this report.


GENERAL INFORMATION

DiAnne Mine, I.D. 36 05708, operated by the Canterbury Coal Company, is 2 miles off U.S. Route 156 in Maysville, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. The mine began production on August 1, 1978 and operates in the Lower Kittanning coalbed at a depth of 500 feet with the coal seam ranging in thickness from 48 to 56 inches. The mine produces an average of 6,000 tons of coal daily from two mechanized mining units, operating two production shifts and one maintenance shift. Coal is transported from the working sections to the surface via belt conveyors.

The immediate roof consists of dark shale. Forty-two inch long resin roof bolts provide primary roof support. Supplemental roof supports consisting of posts, cribs and combination roof bolts are also used. Ventilation is induced into the mine utilizing an eight-foot diameter Joy axial vane high capacity exhausting fan, producing approximately 323,019 cubic feet of air per minute. The latest laboratory analysis of samples collected at the fan indicates a total methane liberation of 266,699 cubic feet in twenty-four hours. Two main portals access the mine. Personnel and supplies are transported to the working section by battery powered track mounted and rubber tired vehicles.

The principal officials of the Canterbury Coal Company

President..............................................John Goroncy
Superintendent.....................................Dwayne Ross
Safety Director....................................Vernon M. Demich Jr.
The last complete quarterly Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) regular safety and health inspection was completed on September 29, 1999. The first quarterly regular safety and health inspection for FY2000 was ongoing, but had not been completed at the time of the accident.


DESCRIPTION OF THE ACCIDENT

On December 22, 1999, the afternoon shift crew, consisting of twelve persons and supervised by John J. Zak, section foreman, entered the mine at their regularly scheduled starting time of 3:30 p.m.. The crew traveled from the surface to the M2 working section, mechanized mining unit (MMU) 010-0, via battery powered track mounted and rubber-tired personnel carriers. They arrived on the M2 section at approximately 4:02 p.m.

The M2 section is a multiple continuous-mining machine section, operating with two Joy 14-10 continuous-mining machines, one for pillaring and the other for developing bleeder rooms. Entries, crosscuts and rooms were driven a maximum of 20 feet wide. The section is ventilated with a single split of air; therefore, mining cannot be done simultaneously with both mining machines.

Zak gave out work assignments to the crew. Robert J. Francisco, continuous-mining machine operator, and Mike Hamilton and Dennis Morris, roof-bolting machine operators, were assigned duties on the right rooms side. Calvin John, continuous-mining machine operator, Dallas Buterbaugh and Kevin Crissman, roof-bolting machine operators, were assigned to the pillar line side. Robert Buchinsky, Marvin Gromley, Joseph Zachesky and Gary Gerber, shuttle-car operators, were assigned to haul coal from both the pillar line and rooms. Larry Jones, scoop operator, was assigned to help Francisco with his trailing cable.

Zak examined the faces of the rooms and the pillar line. Mining continued in the No. 9 Block. Zak traveled back to the No. 23 room. He measured the air at the face and traveled up to the No. 9 pillar block. When the push out block was completed, he called Francisco on a hand-held radio to begin mining in the No. 23 room. Zak stayed on the pillaring side to help move the continuous-mining machine across the pillar line.

Francisco began mining in the No. 23 room with a radio-remote, scrubber equipped, continuous- mining machine. Francisco mined the first 20 feet out of the right side of the room. He moved to the left side and mined out 20 feet. Francisco then moved back to the right side and mined an additional 24 feet. He moved to the left side to finish mining the room. At approximately 5:10 p.m., Marvin Gromley, shuttle-car operator, trammed the No. 5 shuttle car into No. 23 room to be loaded. As Gromley trammed his shuttle car toward the conveyor boom of the continuous- mining machine, Francisco raised the boom and a roof fall occurred. Gromley exited the shuttle car and ran toward the continuous-mining machine where he observed Francisco under a section of mine roof. The roof rock, approximately 18 feet wide, 5 feet long on the left side and 15 long on the right side feet and up to 6 inches thick, fell hitting the mining machine on the left and the mine floor on the right, just inby the last row of permanent roof supports.

Larry Jones, scoop operator, was positioned between No. 22 and No. 23 rooms when he heard the roof fall occur. He heard Gromley shout for help and traveled to the area where the fall had occurred. Jones observed Francisco under the roof fall and called Zak by hand-held radio informing him that an accident had occurred in the No.23 room. Zak, an Emergency Medical echnician, went immediately to the accident scene and checked Francisco for vital signs. None were detected. Crew members helped in the recovery. A roof jack was set for support and to prevent the rock from sliding during the recovery. They attempted unsuccessfully to lift the rock off Francisco using posts and a lifting jack. A scoop was used to raise the rock. Francisco was removed and transported to the surface.

Francisco was pronounced dead at the mine site at 6:25 p.m., by Robert Bower, Armstrong County Coroner and was transported to St. Francis Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where an autopsy was performed.


INVESTIGATION OF THE ACCIDENT

At approximately 5:45 p.m., on December 22, 1999, Gerald E. Davis, Assistant District Manager--Inspection Programs, was notified by Dwayne Ross, Superintendent, that a serious accident had occurred. An MSHA accident investigation team was assembled. The team consisted of accident investigators, a roof control specialist and a mining engineer (roof control). Upon their arrival at the mine, a 103(k) Order was issued to ensure the safety of the miners until an investigation could be conducted. MSHA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection jointly conducted the investigation with the assistance of mine management and miners. Interviews were conducted at the mine site. The on-site investigation was completed on January 6, 2000. The miners elected not to have representation during the investigation.


DISCUSSION OF THE ACCIDENT

The following is a discussion of the relevant factors identified during the accident investigation.