DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
REPORT OF INVESTIGATION
(SURFACE COAL MINE)
FATAL MACHINERY ACCIDENT
Twilight MTR Surface Mine (I.D. No. 46-08645)
Independence Coal Co., Inc. dba Progress Coal Company
Twilight, Boone County, West Virginia
September 14, 2001
Bobby G. Moreland
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Approval and Certification Center
Originating Office � Mine Safety and Health Administration
100 Bluestone Road, Mount Hope, West Virginia 25880
Edwin P. Brady, District Manager
Release Date: March 14, 2002
On Friday, September 14, 2001, about 10:35 a.m., a fatal machinery accident occurred on the Demag excavator at the James Creek cut through, of Independence Coal Company Inc., dba Progress Coal Company, Twilight MTR Surface Mine. The accident resulted in fatal injuries to Paul Miller, contracted Field Service Technician (Mechanic). Miller had 7 years total mining experience, including four years as a Field Service Technician. The accident occurred while Miller was being lowered from the H285S Demag Excavator via an electro-hydraulic man lift. The man lift upper arm support structure broke, striking Miller across the back of the head. The contact resulted in Miller being thrown from the man lift to the ground approximately 2 to 4 feet below, resulting in fatal injuries.
The Twilight MTR Surface Mine is a bituminous surface mine located near Twilight, Boone County, West Virginia. Mining operation began in December, 1997. The mine is currently being operated by Independence Coal Co., Inc., dba Progress Coal Company.
There are six seams of coal within the boundaries of the mining property. Seam thicknessess range from 3 to 6 feet. Partings between the seams vary from a few inches to 50 feet thick.
The mine has several active pits in a 2000-acre site. Overburden ranges in depth from 20 feet to 80 feet and is blasted, then removed with a H285S Demag excavator, 2500 Hitachi Excavator and Bucyrus Erie shovel.
Once the overburden has been removed, the coal is loaded with Caterpillar, Model 992 front end loaders. Caterpillar, Model 777, wide body end dump trucks are used to transport the coal to a stockpile area. The coal is loaded onto an underground belt system and transported to the Elk Run Coal Company preparation plant.
Operating two, 9 hour shifts, 6 days per week, the mine employs 100 persons, including approximately 40 contractors. The mine produces an average of 29,000 tons per day. The last regular Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) inspection was completed on May 5, 2001.
The principal officers of the mine at the time of the accident were: Luther Hicks, Superintendent; John Pauley, Foreman; and Mike Simons, Safety Director.
Cummins Cumberland, Contractor ID No. Y8S, began operation in September, 1983 repairing surface mine equipment. Cummins Cumberland employees had periodically worked at the Twilight MTR Surface mine since January 2001.
The principal officers for Cummins Cumberland at the time of the accident were: Jack Apple, President; Ralph Walker, Business Manager; and David Rollins, Service Manager.
DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT
On Friday, September 14, 2001, around 7:00 a.m., Gary Estep and Paul Miller, victim, employees of Cummins Cumberland departed the contractor's central shop located at South Charleston, West Virginia. The two employees arrived at the Twilight MTR Surface Mine located near Twilight, Boone County, West Virginia, at about 10:00 a.m.
Upon arrival at the James Creek cut through, their work shift began by boarding the H285S Demag Excavator via the rear ladder to evaluate the parts and tools needed to complete the engine installation. The H285S Demag Excavator is equipped with a Power Step Inc., self contained electro-hydraulic man lift used to raise or lower workers. Ed Dotson, Preventative Maintenance Technician employed by Independence Coal Company, got on the man lift and was lowered to the ground by Miller (victim). Dotson retrieved a crib block, laid it on the man lift and was raised back up to the machine level by Miller. Miller, having determined what tools were needed to finish the engine installation, stepped onto the man lift and directed Estep to lower him to the ground. Estep engaged the electrical switch mounted to the machine. The man lift started to descend when its' upper structure support arm suddenly broke, striking Miller in the back of the head. The blow caused him to be thrown from the man lift onto the ground approximately 2 feet to 4 feet below. Estep immediately went to Miller, observing him unconscious with fluids discharging from both ears. Estep checked for vital signs and could not detect a pulse. Arriving within 5 minutes, coal company EMT's immediately started CPR and continued until Miller's care was turned over to the Whitesville Ambulance Authority. Miller was transported by Healthnet to the Charleston Area Medical Center, Charleston, Kanawha County, West Virginia where he was pronounced dead by the Hospital Medical Staff.
INVESTIGATION OF ACCIDENT
The Mine Safety and Health Administration was notified at 12:15 p.m., on September 14, 2001, that a serious machinery accident had occurred. MSHA personnel arrived at the mine site about 1:00 p.m. on September 14, 2001.
A 103 (k) Order was issued to ensure the safety of the miners. The Mine Safety and Health Administration and the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training, jointly conducted an investigation with the assistance of mine management and employees of Independence Coal Company Inc. dba Progress Coal Company. Those persons who participated in the investigation are listed in Appendix A.
Records indicated that training had been conducted in accordance with 30 CFR, Part 48. Examination Records indicated that the required examinations were being conducted in accordance with the regulations.
1. The man lift involved in the accident is a self-contained electro-hydraulic power unit manufactured by Power Step Inc.
2. The man-lift involved in the accident was used to transport workers up to the H285S Demag Excavator and back down to the ground level.
3. Prior to the accident, Independence Coal maintenance personnel sent the man lift to Mountaineer Steel Inc. for repairs. Mountaineer Steel, Inc. fitted and welded new upper structure support arms to the man lift. Independence Coal Company employees started reinstallation of the man lift on the H285S Demag Excavator on September 13, 2001. Installation was incomplete at the time of the accident.
4. The weld of the repaired joint was equivalent to approximately19% of the original 2-1/2 by 2-1/2 inch square tubing cross sectional area. 5. The self-contained electro-hydraulic power step unit is powered by 24 volt direct current supplied by the excavator.
6. A single action hydraulic cylinder provides lifting action. "Down" operation is accomplished through a solenoid pressure release valve allowing cylinder bleed-down. Speed is controlled through an in-line orifice located on the cylinder. A preset internal pressure relief valve prevents overloading.
7. Two-way, self-centering, electrical control switches, by manufacturing design, are located on the step platform, the machine catwalk, and at ground level. The catwalk and ground level electrical control switches were not installed.
8. The power step, when fully operational, locks automatically in the fully raised position. A machine interlock switch is used to prevent excavator movement when the step is not in the locked position. The interlock switch was inoperative.
9. The man lift platform size is 24 by 24 inches and is equipped with railings and safety chains.
10. Total unit weight is approximately 500 pounds.
11. The death certificate lists the manner of death as "Accident" from head injuries.
12. Independence Coal Company has instituted a policy whereby only original equipment manufacturer's parts will be used in equipment rebuilds at the mine.
The accident and resultant fatality occurred when a welded joint of the man lift upper structure support arm failed. Weld penetration into the failed joint area was highly irregular and directly contributed to the welded joint failure.
A 103(k) Order, No. 4200729 was issued stating in part: The mine has experienced a fatal machinery accident at the H285S Demag Excavator, James Creek cut through pit; this order is issued to ensure the safety of any person(s) in or around the affected area until an examination or investigation is made. Only those persons selected from the company officials, state officials, the miners' representative and other persons who are deemed by MSHA to have information relevant to the investigation may enter or remain in the affected area.
A 104(a) Citation, No. 7205637 was issued to Independence Coal Company for a violation of 77.404(a) stating in part: The Power Step Inc., man lift was not being maintained in a safe operating condition.
A 104(a) Citation, No. 7205638 was issued to Mountaineer Steel Inc. for a violation of 77.404(a) stating in part: The Power Step Inc., man lift was not being maintained in a safe operating condition. Testing of the upper structure support arm indicated that only 19% of the available surface area had been welded. The manufacturer load capacity of 600 pounds could not be maintained.
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
The Mine Safety and Health Administration conducted an investigation, and those who were present and/or participated were as follows:
Independence Coal Company Inc. dba Progress Coal Company
Mike Simons .............. Safety DirectorCummins Cumberland
*Bill Waters .............. Maintenance Foreman
*Mark Ferguson .............. Maintenance
Mark Heath .............. Attorney-At-Law
Frank Foster .............. Safety Director - Massey Coal Services
*Edmond Dotson .............. Preventative Maintenance Technician
*Robert Light .............. Mechanic
*Brandon Nelson .............. Equipment Operator (EMT)
John Pauley .............. Pit Foreman
Ralph Walker .............. Business ManagerAll Crane & Equipment Rental Corp.
David Rollins .............. Service Manager
*Gary Estep .............. Mechanic
Sam Moody .............. Operations ManagerMountaineer Steel Inc.
*Mike Casto .............. Equipment Operator
Roy Stanley .............. President* Indicates persons interviewed. West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training
*Grover Chambers .............. Shop Foreman
Bette Damron .............. The St. Paul Insurance Co.
James Stebbins .............. Attorney-At-Law
Terry Farley .............. Health and Safety Administrator Harry Linville .............. Inspector-at-Large Dennie Ballard .............. Assistant Inspector-at-Large Randall Bailey .............. Surface InspectorMine Safety and Health Administration
Bobby Moreland .............. Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector/Accident Investigator John Brown .............. Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector David Sturgill .............. Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector Sharon Cook .............. Educational Field Services Don Ellis .............. Supervisory Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector Jim Beha .............. Coal Mine Safety & Health Specialist/Accident Investigation Coordinator Terry Marshall .............. Mechanical Engineer Approval and Certification Center Steve Gigliotti .............. Technical Support Accident Reduction Manager