Department of Labor
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Coal Mine Safety and Health
Report of Investigation
Fatal Powered Haulage Accident
December 19, 2000
D&D Truck Lines (RST)
Shade Creek Plant
PBS Coals, Inc.
Central City, Somerset County, Pennsylvania
I.D. No. 36-03329
Thomas H. Whitehair, II
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Michael M. Zenone
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Donald W. Huntley, Jr.
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Christopher J. Kelly
Mine Safety and Health Administration
RR 1, Box 736, Hunker, Pennsylvania 15639
Cheryl McGill, District Manager
The Shade Creek Plant, I.D. No. 36-03329, is operated by PBS Coals, Inc. The preparation plant is located approximately one half mile off Route 160 in Shade Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The plant processes approximately 4,800 tons of coal daily operating three shifts a day with 53 employees. Coal is delivered to the preparation plant by trucks and dumped in separate raw coal stock piles according to the different mines supplying coal. Coal from the various piles is then processed through the preparation plant and blended to satisfy customer specifications. One source of coal was purchased from Tanoma Energy, Inc. who contracted Mercury Trucking, I.D. No. 6CU, to deliver that coal to the Shade Creek Plant. Mercury Trucking subcontracted to D&D Truck Lines, I.D. No. RST, to deliver this coal to the Shade Creek Plant.
The principal official of D&D Truck Lines is:
Owner.............................................................Richard L. SmithThe principal officials of PBS Coals, Inc. are:
President.........................................................Robert ScottThe last complete Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) regular safety and health inspection of the Shade Creek Plant was completed on September 27, 2000.
Safety Director................................................John J. Matsko, III
DESCRIPTION OF THE ACCIDENT
At approximately 1:20 p.m., on December 19, 2000, William Crawford and Gary Kerley, truck drivers leased by D&D Truck Lines, arrived at the scale house of the Shade Creek Preparation Plant. Crawford and Kerley were hauling coal to the preparation plant from Miller Mine. This was the first time Kerley had hauled coal to this facility. After the two trucks were weighed, Crawford and Kerley were directed by Ron Mock, weigh master, to take their trucks to the raw coal stock pile area and to contact Kenneth Benning, loader operator, for further instructions.
When Crawford and Kerley arrived at the raw coal stock pile area, Benning directed them by radio to dump at the toe of the Miller Mine raw coal stock pile. Crawford backed his truck toward the pile at an angle, and then began raising the trailer to dump. Kerley backed his truck along side and to the right of Crawford's truck. Because of the angle of the toe of the coal pile, the front of Kerley's truck was about 26 feet back from the front of Crawford's truck. (See sketch in Appendix 3). Kerley began raising the trailer of his truck to dump. Crawford stated that when the trailer of his truck was fully raised, he felt the truck move. He looked in his side mirror and saw his trailer leaning to the right. Crawford immediately started to lower the trailer. As the trailer started down, the trailer tipped over, which caused the driver's side of Crawford's cab to raise off the ground. Crawford turned the ignition off and attempted to get out of the driver's side door. The door was jammed and would not open. He then tried to open the passenger's side door, but it was also jammed. At this time, Crawford saw that his trailer was on the cab of Kerley's truck. He then turned the ignition on and called Benning by radio for help. Crawford climbed out of the driver side window and went to check on Kerley as Benning arrived. Crawford and Benning saw Kerley trapped in the cab under Crawford's trailer but were unable to reach Kerley because of the damage that had occurred to the cab and doors. They had to wait for assistance to arrive.
The Central City Fire Department arrived on the scene at 1:41 p.m., and began working to extricate Kerley. Kerley was pronounced dead at the mine site at 3:15 p.m., by Wallace Miller, Somerset County Coroner. Extrication was completed at approximately 4:30 p.m., and the victim was transported to Conemaugh Memorial Hospital in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where an autopsy was performed. The cause of death was listed by the coroner as positional asphyxiation.
INVESTIGATION OF THE ACCIDENT
At approximately 2:30 p.m., on December 19, 2000, James E. Biesinger, Johnstown, PA Field Office Supervisor, was notified that a fatal accident had occurred. An MSHA accident investigation team was assembled. The team consisted of Coal Mine Safety and Health inspectors, a training specialist from Educational Field Services and a civil engineer from Technical Support. An attorney from the Office of the Solicitor, provided legal assistance during the investigation. A 103(k) Order was issued upon the team's arrival at the mine to ensure the safety of the miners until an investigation could be conducted. MSHA 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 December 20, 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.
The Shade Creek Preparation Plant is a wet plant that cleans and blends coal for the steam market. The plant operates three shifts a day, six days a week. This plant receives coal from various mines in the area. The coal delivered the day of the accident was purchased from Tanoma Energy, Inc. Mercury Trucking, I.D. No. 6CU, was contracted by Tanoma Energy, Inc. to deliver the coal from Miller Mine to the PBS Coal Shade Creek Preparation Plant. Mercury Trucking subcontracted to D&D Truck Lines, I.D. No. RST, for the delivery. D&D Truck Lines owns and maintains the trucks. The truck drivers are leased from America's PEO, but are directed and managed by D&D Truck Lines.
The raw coal stock piles are segregated by mine. The coal from the various piles is later mixed and blended to meet required specifications.
The dumping area at the site of the accident was smooth and frozen solid. No indentations or ruts were observed. The slope of the ground was estimated to be approximately level.
Kerley was driving a 1989 Freightliner tractor and towing a Ravens, 34-foot aluminum tandem axle, dump trailer. Crawford was driving a 1990 Kenworth tractor and towing a Cobra, 34-foot aluminum tandem axle, dump trailer. The Cobra trailer measured 5 feet 6 inches high, 7 feet 3 inches wide, and 33 feet 8 inches long. When the ram used to raise the Cobra trailer was fully extended and the trailer fully raised, the distance from the ground to the highest point was approximately 25 feet.
Due to the design of the trailer, the stability during dumping, with the ram fully extended, is affected by many factors, including the distribution of the load under freezing conditions. The lift cylinder is a five stage telescoping unit attached to the center of the trailer. As the trailer is raised, the cylinder diameter decreases. When the load fails to dump, the entire weight of the loaded trailer is supported by this single cylinder. An unevenly distributed load could change the center of gravity of the trailer enough to upset its equilibrium and cause it to tip.
Information obtained from weigh tickets provided by PBS Coals, Inc., indicated that the gross vehicle weight of Kerley's truck was 78,200 pounds, and the gross vehicle weight of Crawford's truck was 80,100 pounds. Both trucks were loaded at the Miller Mine at roughly the same time, approximately 45 minutes prior to the accident. The load in each of the trucks was estimated to be approximately 50,000 pounds.
Neither of the trailers were heated, nor were chemical agents used to prevent the coal from freezing to the trailers. Crawford's tractor was equipped with a tank containing diesel fuel and an air pressure sprayer mounted on the back of the cab. In order to apply the diesel fuel to the inside of the trailer, the driver would have to climb on the trailer. Discussions with D&D Truck Lines indicated that because a safe means of spraying was not available, company policy did not require spraying of the trailer for de-icing.
During the investigation, it was observed that the tailgate of the Cobra (overturned) trailer was unlatched. A layer of coal was found frozen to some areas of the bottom of the trailer. It was also observed that only a small pile of coal (approximately one-half ton) had discharged at the rear of the overturning trailer despite the fact that the trailer was completely raised. This indicates that most of the load was frozen to the trailer and would not discharge when the trailer was raised. An experienced coal tractor trailer driver would have realized that the load was not discharging as the trailer raised.
Surface weather observations, collected by the National Weather Service at the Johnstown Cambria Airport (located 25 miles from the accident site), indicated that at the time of the accident, winds were steady out of the northwest at 6 to 8 miles per hour and no wind gusts were reported. Temperature in the area was 24 degrees Fahrenheit. The affect of wind created a wind chill factor of 22 degrees Fahrenheit. Precipitation, consisting of freezing rain and snow, was also reported.
Kerley positioned his truck so that the the cab of his truck was approximately 26 feet back from the cab of Crawford's truck. The distance between the trucks was approximately 11 feet. (See sketch in Appendix 3.)
This was Kerley's first visit to this facility. He had approximately 15 months experience driving a coal truck, including 3 months with D&D Truck Lines. Crawford had approximately 35 years general truck driving experience, but only 3 months experience driving a coal truck.
No hazard training was provided for Kerley or Crawford at the Shade Creek Plant.
The fatal accident occurred because neither driver, due to a lack of experience and/or training, recognized the hazards associated with dumping coal from tractor trailers in freezing weather. A contributory factor to the accident is the design of the trailer due to its lack of stability when dumping under adverse conditions.
The following citations and order were issued due to the conditions revealed during the investigation:
1. A 103(k) order was issued to ensure the safety of all persons at the mine until an investigation was completed and all areas and equipment were deemed safe.
2. A 104(a) citation for a violation of 30 CFR 48.31(a) was issued to PBS Coals, Inc., Shade Creek Plant, I.D. 36 03329. Gary Kerley and William Crawford were operating coal trucks on the mine site and had not received the required hazard training.
3. A 104(a) citation for a violation of 30 CFR 48.31(a) was issued to D&D Truck Lines, I.D. No. RST. Gary Kerley was fatally injured while operating a coal truck on the mine site and had not received the required hazard training.
4. A 104(g) order for a violation of 30 CFR 48.31(a) was issued to D&D Truck Lines, I.D. No. RST. William Crawford was operating a coal truck on the mine site and had not received the required hazard training; therefore, he is considered to be a hazard to himself and others and is to be removed from the mine site until such time training is received.
5. A 104(a) citation for a violation of 30 CFR 48.31(a) was issued to Mercury Trucking, Inc., I.D. No. 6CU. Gary Kerley and William Crawford, contractors operating coal trucks on the mine site, did not receive the required hazard training.
In addition, due to the conditions revealed during the investigation, a 104(a) citation for a violation of 30 CFR 48.31(a) was issued under a spot inspection to PBS Coals, Inc. for an inadequate hazard training program in the areas of hazard recognition and avoidance and safe work procedures. The hazards associated with adverse and/or winter conditions were not addressed in their program.
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Listed below are those persons who participated and/or were present during the investigation:
List of Persons Participating in the Investigation
PBS Coals, Inc.
Raymond McGran ............... Vice PresidentMercury Trucking, Inc.
John J. Matsko, III ............... Safety Manager
Joseph Yuhas ............... Attorney
Russ Graham ............... Vice President of SalesD&D Truck Lines
Richard L. Smith ............... OwnerAmerica's PEO
William Crawford ............... Truck Driver
Matt McDevitt ............... Safety RepresentativeCentral City Ambulance Service
Paul Fleegle ............... ChiefSomerset County Coroner's Office
Wallace Miller ............... CoronerPennsylvania State Police
Terry Wilson ............... TrooperMine Safety and Health Administration
Carol M. Boring ............... Staff Assistant
Donald W. Huntley, Jr. ............... Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Thomas H. Whitehair, II ............... Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Michael M. Zenone ............... Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Donald W. Conrad ............... Mine Safety and Health Specialist (Training)