DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
REPORT OF INVESTIGATION
(UNDERGROUND COAL MINE)
FATAL FALL-OF-ROOF ACCIDENT
No. 55 Mine (ID No. 46-08743)
E Z Money Coal Company, Inc.
Keystone, McDowell County, West Virginia
June 21, 2000
Roger D. Richmond
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
100 Bluestone Road, Mt. Hope, West Virginia 25880
Edwin P. Brady, District Manager
Release Date: August 23, 2000
On June 21, 2000, at approximately 7:55 a.m., Billy Lee Carver, Jr., age 28, continuous-mining-machine operator, was fatally injured and Billy R. Lee, continuous-mining-machine helper, was seriously injured when they were struck by a large, slickensided horseback measuring 28 feet long by 18 feet wide by 8 feet thick. The approved roof-control plan was not being followed in that lift timbers were not installed prior to mining, minimum pillar sizes were not maintained, directional control was not maintained, and the proper sequence for pillar extraction was not followed. The injured, Billy R. Lee, was recovered and brought to the surface and transported to Bluefield Regional Hospital by Billy Mabe, a mechanic for No. 52 Mine, High Knob Coal Co., Inc., and secretary for E Z Money Coal Company. The victim was recovered and brought to the surface and transported by Widner Ambulance Service to Welch Emergency Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
E Z Money Coal Company, Inc., No. 55 Mine, ID No. 46-08743, is located in Keystone, McDowell County, West Virginia. The mine is accessed by 5 drift portals into the Pocahontas No. 12 coal seam. The coal seam typically is 36 inches in thickness but was averaging 52 inches at the accident scene.
Employment is provided for seven underground employees and one surface employee. The mine is operated one shift per day, five days per week, producing 300 to 350 tons of raw coal daily from one continuous-mining-machine unit. Coal is transported from the face to the section loading point by shuttle cars, then transported from the section loading point to the surface by a belt-conveyor system. Two rubber-tired S&S scoops are used to transport employees, supplies, materials, and equipment into and out of the mine.
The No. 55 Mine has a blowing ventilation system, utilizing a single main mine fan producing 62,100 cubic feet of air per minute (cfm). The mine has no history of methane liberation. Face areas are ventilated using exhausting line curtain during development.
The roof-control plan in effect at the time of the accident was approved by the Mine Safety and Health Administration on June 7, 2000. The immediate mine roof consists of 1-to-3 feet of unconsolidated shale, 1-to-8 inch bone rider, and 3-to-5 feet firm, laminated shale. The approved roof-control plan specifies that fully-grouted resin bolts, a minimum length of 48 inches, be installed on a 4-foot wide by 4-foot long pattern. Maximum post spacing shall not exceed 4 feet during partial pillar recovery.
The principal officers for No. 55 Mine at the time of the accident were Jeff Wright, President and Billy Mabe, Secretary. The miners were represented by UMWA District 17.
The last Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) Inspection (AAA) was completed on June 5, 2000.
The Non-Fatal Days Lost (NFDL) incident rate during the previous quarter was 7.40 for underground mines nationwide and zero for this mine.
On Wednesday, June 21, 2000, at approximately 5:50 a.m., Rocky Hill, mine foreman, entered the mine to conduct the preshift examination prior to the day-shift crew entering the mine. Hill, after conducting the preshift examination, arrived on the surface at approximately 6:40 a.m., to fill out the preshift report prior to the day-shift crew entering the mine at the regular starting time of 7:00 a.m.
At approximately 7:00 a.m., the day-shift crew of five men, under Hill's supervision, entered the mine. Jeffery Wright, belt man, loaded the 482 S&S scoop with timbers prior to entering the mine. Wright parked the scoop loaded with timbers two crosscuts outby the pillar line and proceeded to the section belt conveyor to clean the tailpiece. Darrell Meade, standard shuttle-car operator, along with Hill loaded eight timbers on the standard shuttle car. Hill then proceeded to the section transformer and put the electrical breakers in on the equipment. Meade proceeded to the face with the standard shuttle car and eight timbers that were set as breaker timbers outby the lift mined to the southwest off of the No. 6 entry. This lift was mined just prior to the end of the shift on Tuesday, June 20, 2000. Meade stated that Billy Carver, 14-1 Joy continuous-mining-machine operator (victim), and Billy Lee, continuous-mining-machine helper (injured), set the eight breaker timbers.
Further, the initial cut in the No. 1 room to the north was mined on a previous shift and bolted. The second cut was mined on June 20, 2000, with eight breaker posts installed. A total of approximately 50 feet was mined in the No. 1 room with approximately 30 feet bolted, with a width of approximately 18 feet.
Meade backed up one break and began putting oil in the standard shuttle car. Then Carver, Lee, and Meade began mining the lift to the northwest off of the No. 1 room. Meade dumped his first loaded shuttle car and was loaded the second time, but was held up at the shuttle car switch-out due to a damaged cable on the off-standard shuttle car. James Cordle, off-standard shuttle-car operator, stated that the cable was damaged on his first trip to the dumping point. Hill, also a mine electrician, and Cordle repaired the cable on the off-standard shuttle car, and Cordle dumped his first shuttle car of coal. Hill pushed the timbers out of the scoop in the No. 4 entry and started cleaning the dump. Cordle had dumped about four feet of his second load when Hill heard the rock fall at the miner and men began flagging their lights. Hill went directly to the miner. While mining in a northwest direction from the No. 1 room, a large, slickensided horseback, measuring 28 feet long by 18 feet wide and approximately 8 feet thick, was undermined. Billy Lee, continuous-mining-machine helper, stated that Carver could have mined approximately 8-to-10 more feet before reaching the last row of bolts.
Lee stated that after loading two shuttle cars from the cut, he and Carver set four lift timbers about two feet to the right and parallel with the miner. Lee stated that the roof made one big crunching noise about 15-to-20 seconds before it fell, and that Carver started backing the miner up and two or three dribbles of rock fell approximately two or three feet from Carver's head. At that time, approximately 7:55 a.m., he and Carver began to run and the roof fell. Carver was covered up and Lee was pinned by the rock from the knees down. Hill stated that when he saw what had taken place, he went directly to the mine phone and called outside to inform the outside man and mining equipment owner, Jack Honaker, of an emergency. Hill then went back to the accident scene to jack the rock off of the injured Billy Lee. Jeffery Wright, belt man, went outside to get more jacks and took them back to the accident scene. Wright gathered up crib blocks and other materials and then went back outside to get a port-a-power and took it back to the accident scene. After jacking the rock off of Lee's legs, Hill took Lee to the surface where he was transported by personal vehicle to the Bluefield Regional Hospital by Billy Mabe, a mechanic for High Knob Coal Co., Inc., No. 52 Mine, and secretary for E Z Money Coal Company, Inc. Hill went directly back to the accident scene to help Meade and Cordle jack the rock off of the victim. Hill sent Cordle, off-standard shuttle-car operator and uncle to the victim, and Meade, standard shuttle-car operator, to the outside because of their emotional state. Jack Honaker, outside man, drove to the High Knob Coal Co., Inc., No. 52 Mine and requested that Scott Childers, an employee of the No. 52 Mine, come to the No. 55 Mine to assist Hill in retrieving the victim. Kenny Lambert, general manager for Bluestone Coal Corporation, and Donnie Coleman, safety consultant for E Z Money Coal Company, Inc., arrived on the scene and assisted Hill in recovering the victim.
The victim was recovered in approximately 90 minutes and was taken to the surface by a Mack 8 personnel transporter where he was transported by Widner Ambulance Service to Welch Emergency Center in Welch, West Virginia, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
MSHA was notified at 8:45 a.m., on June 21, 2000, that a serious accident had occurred. MSHA accident investigators were notified and dispatched to the mine. A 103(k) Order was issued to ensure the safety of the miners until the accident investigation could be completed. The investigation was conducted in cooperation with the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training (WVMHST), with the assistance of the operator and their employees. A list of those persons who participated, were interviewed and/or were present during the investigation can be found in Appendix A of this report.
Representatives of MSHA and WVMHST traveled to the underground accident scene to secure the area. A thorough investigation of existing physical conditions of the accident scene was conducted by the investigation team members. Photographs, video recordings, and relevant measurements were taken. Sketches and a survey were also conducted at the site. (See Appendix B)
Interviews were conducted with persons who had knowledge of the accident on June 22, 2000, in the conference room of the WVMHST Office at Welch, West Virginia. Follow-up interviews were also conducted at the same office on June 28, 2000, and July 13, 2000. The investigation also included a review of training records and records of other required examinations. The physical portion of the investigation was completed on June 21, 2000.
A review of the training records indicated that training had been conducted in accordance with 30 CFR, Part 48, and was up-to-date.
Examination of records and on-site evidence indicated that the required examinations were not being conducted adequately and were not being recorded in accordance with 30 CFR, Part 75.
1. The approved roof-control plan specifies fully-grouted resin roof bolts with a minimum length of 48 inches to be used at this mine. The mine roof in the area where the accident occurred was supported with 48-inch fully-grouted resin roof bolts, 5/8 inch in diameter (No. 5 Rebar) with 6x6-inch bearing plates as the primary roof support.
2. The approved roof-control plan states that the operator shall not advance the controls of the continuous-mining machine inby the last complete row of roof bolts and there was no evidence that the operator had worked beyond roof support.
3. Roof bolts were installed on approximately 4 feet crosswise and 4 feet lengthwise spacing, in accordance with the approved roof-control plan.
4. Testimony revealed that lift timbers were not installed prior to the lift being started in the northwest direction. The approved roof-control plan required that lift timbers be installed prior to starting the lift.
5. A Joy 14-1 CM continuous-mining machine with an operator's compartment and no canopy was utilized.
6. The approved roof-control plan was not followed when minimum pillar dimensions were not maintained in the area of the accident.
7. Pillar deterioration was not noted on the section.
8. Interview statements revealed that mining projections were inaccurate two (2) crosscuts outby the area where the accident occurred. Minimum approved centers were 50' x 70', resulting in 30' x 50' pillars. A pillar was measured immediately adjacent to the accident scene and found to be 20' x 42'.
9. Sight lines or other means for directional control were not provided to maintain the projected direction of mining in the area where the accident occurred.
10. The sequence of mining for pillar extraction was not being followed as required in the approved roof-control plan. Second mining was being done outby the established gob line, in the barrier block outby the pillar line and in the wrong direction, exposing the miners to roof-fall hazards.
11. The Pocahontas No. 12 coal seam being mined is normally 36 inches. Evaluation of mining heights during previous inspections measured heights under 42 inches during these inspections. Mining height in the area of the accident averaged 52 inches.
12. The coal seam in the area does undulate and mining heights were measured at 41 inches to 60 inches on the 001 section.
13. Room widths and entry widths in the area of the accident measured 17� feet to 18� feet.
14. The (horseback) roof fall measured 28 feet long by 18 feet wide by 8 feet thick and had been bolted.
15. Adequate preshift examinations for the 001-0 section were not being conducted. Hazardous conditions recognized by the mine examiner were not being reported or recorded.
16. The continuous-mining machine was not recovered. The existence of breaker posts or turn timbers could not be established, nor could the proper spacing of roof bolts be established in the fall area. Earthen seals have been placed on the mine openings.
It is the consensus of the investigation team that the accident occurred when an undetected slickensided horseback was undermined and fell. The approved roof-control plan was not being followed in that lift timbers were not installed prior to mining, minimum pillar sizes were not maintained, directional control was not maintained, and the sequence for pillar extraction was not followed.
1. A 103(k) Order No. 7187520 was issued to ensure the safety of all persons in the mine until an investigation is completed and all areas and equipment are deemed safe.
2. A 104(d)(1) Citation No. 7187524 was issued citing 30 CFR 75.220(a)(1). The approved roof-control plan was not being complied with on the 001-0 working section, as revealed during this fatal roof-fall investigation. A reduction in the size of the pillar blocks resulted when mining centers were not maintained to at least 50 ft. x 70 ft., as required in the approved roof-control plan. This condition was revealed by testimony given by the section foreman, Rocky Hill, and by measurements taken by MSHA. Also, lift posts were not installed prior to mining the barrier lift in the area where the accident occurred. The injured miner involved in the accident stated that the lift posts were set after mining had commenced. These conditions are contributing factors which resulted in the death of the continuous-mining-machine operator, and the injuries sustained by the continuous-mining-machine helper.
3. A 104(d)(1) Order No. 7187523 was issued citing 30 CFR 75.203(a). Evidence obtained during this fatal roof-fall investigation has revealed that the method of mining on the 001-0 working section exposed the miners to hazards resulting from faulty pillar recovery. The sequence of mining, in particular the sequence of barrier lifts, was not being followed as indicated in the approved roof-control plan. This violation is a contributing factor which resulted in the death of the continuous-mining-machine operator and injuries to the continuous-mining-machine helper.
4. A 104(d)(1) Order No. 7187525 was issued citing 30 CFR 75.203(b). This fatal roof-fall investigation revealed that the mine operator did not provide sight lines or other methods of directional control to maintain the projected direction of mining on the 001-0 working section and in the area where the accident occurred. This condition is a contributing factor which resulted in fatal injuries to the continuous-mining-machine operator and injury to the continuous-mining-machine helper.
5. A 104(d)(1) Order No. 7187526 was issued citing 30 CFR 75.360(a)(1). This fatal roof-fall investigation revealed that on June 21, 2000, an adequate preshift examination was not conducted for the day shift and the following hazardous conditions were not reported and/or corrective action was not taken to abate the conditions present on the 001-0 working section: 1. Conditions in the area of the accident were obvious that reduction of the pillar blocks had occurred and that mining centers had not been maintained to a minimum of 50 ft. x 70 ft. 2. Obvious conditions were present which exposed miners to faulty pillar recovery in that the sequence of mining was not being followed as indicated in the approved roof-control plan. 3. Obvious conditions and statements from the section foreman revealed that sight lines or other means to provide directional control were not being utilized to maintain the projected direction of mining. The examination was made by the mine foreman/section foreman, Rocky Hill. This violation is a contributing factor which resulted in the death of the continuous-mining-machine operator and injury to the continuous-mining-machine helper.
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
The Mine Safety and Health Administration conducted an investigation and those present and/or participating were as follows:
E Z Money Coal Company, Inc.
Jeffery Wright . . . . . . . .PresidentBluestone Coal Corporation
Billy Mabe . . . . . . . . . . Secretary
Donnie Coleman . . . . . .Safety Consultant
Rocky Hill . . . . . . . . . . Mine Foreman/Section Foreman
/Mine Examiner /Mine Electrician and
Approved Instructor for Training
Billy R. Lee . . . . . . . . . Shuttle-Car Operator/Continuous-Mining-Machine Helper
Darrell Meade . . . . . . . Shuttle-Car Operator
James Cordle . . . . . . . .Shuttle-Car Operator
Jack Honaker . . . . . . . Outside Communications, Supply Man, & Equipment Owner
Kenny Lambert . . . . . . General Mine ManagerUnited Mine Workers of America
C. A. Phillips . . . . . . . .International RepresentativeWest Virginia Miners' Health, Safety and Training
Roger Yates . . . . . . . . Field Representative
Joe Carter . . . . . . . . . International Representative
Stanley Belcher . . . . . .District Representative
Fred B. Stinson . . . . . .Inspector-at-LargeMine Safety and Health Administration
Don Dickerson . . . . . . Assistant Inspector-at-Large
Bill Tucker District . . . .Inspector - Underground
John Scott District . . . .Inspector - Underground
Ronald O. Dunbar . . . .Assistant District ManagerPittsburgh Safety and Health Technology Center
Michael Ratcliff . . . . . .CMS&H Inspector/Roof Control
Dennis Kyle . . . . . . . . Supervisory CMS&H Inspector
Clyde Ratcliff . . . . . . . Supervisory CMS&H Inspector
Larry Snyder . . . . . . . CMS&H Inspector/Ventilation
Preston White . . . . . . .Education and Training
Jon Braenovich . . . . . .CMS&H Inspector/Mining Engineer
William H. Uhl, Jr. . . . CMS&H Inspector/Accident Investigator
Roger Richmond . . . . .CMS&H Inspector/ Accident Investigator
Joseph Zelanko . . . . . .Mining EngineerThe following persons were interviewed during this investigation:
John Cook . . . . . . . . . Mining Engineer
Jeffery Wright . . . . . . . President/Beltman
Jack Honaker . . . . . . . Consultant/Equipment Owner/Surface Man
Rocky Hill . . . . . . . . . Mine Foreman/Section Foreman/Mine Examiner/Electrician
James Cordle . . . . . . . Shuttle-Car Operator
Darrel Meade . . . . . . . Shuttle-Car Operator
Billy R. Lee . . . . . . . . .Continuous-Mining-Machine Helper
Billy R. Mabe . . . . . . . Mechanic
Kenneth Lambert . . . . .General Mine Manger/Bluestone Coal Corporation
Donnie Coleman . . . . . .Safety Consultant/E Z Money Coal Co., Inc.