DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REPORT
UNDERGROUND COAL MINE
FATAL POWERED-HAULAGE ACCIDENT
Meadow River No. 1 Mine (ID No. 46-03467)
Meadow River Coal Company
Lookout, Fayette County, West Virginia
May 12, 1995
Jerry E. Sumpter
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Roy W. Milam
Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
100 Bluestone Road, Mount Hope, West Virginia 25880
Michael J. Lawless, District Manager
On May 12, 1995, about 8:50 a.m., a fatal powered-haulage accident occurred on the Southwest Mains section (008-0 MMU) of the Meadow River No. 1 mine, Meadow River Coal Company. William R. Sweet, victim, age 53, with 20 years of mining experience, was operating the No. 3 shuttle car, tramming from the section coal feeder toward the working face. Coal was being mined from the face of No. 5 entry and hauled to the coal feeder in No. 3 entry. A three- shuttle-car haulage system was being used to transport coal from the faces to the coal feeder. The No. 2 shuttle car was utilizing the No. 4 entry before crossing over to the No. 3 entry. As the No. 3 shuttle car was passing by the second crosscut inby the section coal feeder, it was struck by the No. 2 shuttle car entering the No. 3 entry from the crosscut (4 to 3).
Meadow River No. 1 mine of Meadow River Coal Company is located near Lookout, Fayette County, West Virginia. The mine is developed into the Sewell coalbed from the surface by 3 drift openings, 3 shafts, and a slope. The Sewell coalbed averages 32 inches in height. The mine began production on August 16, 1988. Employment is provided for 124 persons on 3 production shifts. The mine produces an average of 2700 tons of clean coal daily from 3 continuous-mining sections. Coal is transported from the working sections to the surface via belt conveyor. The immediate roof is comprised of shale and sandstone and is primarily supported with 48-inch resin bolts; supplemental supports are posts, cribs and combination bolts. Ventilation is induced into the mine by a Joy 10-foot blowing fan which produces about 275,000 cubic feet of air per minute. The mine liberates about 130,000 cubic feet of methane in a 24-hour period. Meadow River Coal Company is a subsidiary of Pittston Coal Company. The principal officers of Meadow River Coal Company are James Lively, president; Teddy Sharp, mine foreman; and Ken Perdue, safety director.
The last Mine Safety and Health Administration complete Safety and Health Inspection was completed on March 31, 1995. A Safety and Health Inspection was ongoing at the time of the accident.
STORY OF EVENT
On Friday, May 12, 1995, the day shift began about 7:30 a.m. The Southwest Mains section crew, under the supervision of Jerry Meadows, section foreman, arrived on the section about 8:05 a.m. and changed out with the midnight shift crew. Meadows instructed the continuous-mining-machine operator, Donald Whittington, to complete the cleanup of the No. 1 entry and then move the continuous-mining machine to the No. 5 entry. Approximately two or three shuttle cars of coal were loaded from the No. 1 entry and the continuous-mining machine was trammed to the No. 5 entry.
Due to the distance from the No. 5 entry face to the section coal feeder, all three shuttle cars had to utilize the No. 3 entry for the first three crosscuts inby the section coal feeder to transport the coal. Meadows instructed William R. Sweet, Forrest Lee Dickerson, and Curtis Martin, the shuttle-car operators, to relocate the trailing cable anchorage point for their respective shuttle car. Meadows proceeded to supervise construction of stoppings in the No. 5 entry.
The No. 3 shuttle car, operated by Sweet, was used to transport the first load of coal from the No. 5 working face. While the No. 3 shuttle car was being loaded, Dickerson examined the trailing cable reel and told Sweet that there was not enough cable to get a second load of coal.
Once the No. 3 shuttle car was loaded, Sweet trammed the shuttle car from the No. 5 face to the section coal feeder located in the No. 3 entry and dumped the load of coal into the feeder.
Dickerson then positioned the No. 2 shuttle car under the continuous-mining-machine boom to be loaded with coal. When loaded, Dickerson trammed the shuttle car from the No. 5 face through the No. 4 entry for two crosscuts and then made a right turn toward the No. 3 entry.
Otis Owen Pugh, electrician, had greased the section coal feeder and was walking to the continuous-mining machine, when he saw Sweet tramming the No. 3 shuttle car to the feeder. Pugh was located immediately inby the second crosscut inby the feeder in the No. 3 entry. He stayed at that location and observed Sweet dump the load of coal into the feeder and begin tramming the No. 3 shuttle car toward the working faces. As the No. 3 shuttle car neared the crosscut where he was located, Pugh also observed the No. 2 shuttle car in the crosscut approaching the No. 3 entry from the No. 4 entry. As Dickerson negotiated the left turn into the No. 3 entry, the No. 2 shuttle car struck the No. 3 shuttle car at the operator's compartment. Pugh stated that he observed the accident and that he immediately summoned help. Meadows immediately came to the accident scene. After evaluating the scene of the accident, Meadows decided to back the No. 2 standard shuttle car away from the victim's shuttle car to remove the victim. Meadows called outside and reported the accident to Teddy Sharp, mine foreman. Sharp called Jan-Care Ambulance Service at 8:50 a.m. The ambulance arrived at the mine site at 9:17 a.m. The victim was transported to Lochgelly Medical Clinic and pronounced dead on arrival by Dr. Curtis H. Thomas at 10:55 a.m.
INVESTIGATION OF THE ACCIDENT
The Mine Safety and Health Administration was notified at 9:03 a.m. on May 12, 1995, that a serious accident had occurred. MSHA personnel arrived at the mine about 11:00 a.m. A 103(k) Order was issued to ensure the safety of the miners.
MSHA and the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training jointly conducted an investigation with the assistance of mine management personnel, the miners, and representatives of the miners.
All parties were briefed by mine personnel as to the circumstances surrounding the accident. A preliminary discussion was held with 10 miners having knowledge surrounding the powered-haulage accident. Representatives of all parties traveled to the accident scene, where a thorough examination was conducted. Photographs, sketches, and relevant measurements were taken at the accident site. Interviews of individuals known to have direct knowledge of the facts surrounding the accident were conducted at the Nuttall Fire Department training room on May 15, 1995, at 9:00 a.m.
The physical portion of the investigation was completed on May 15, and the 103(k) Order was terminated.
Records indicated that all required training had been conducted in accordance with Part 48, Title 30, CFR.
Records indicated that the required examinations were being performed.
The No. 3 shuttle car was a Joy 21SC, 300-volt d.c. powered machine which received power through a No. 2 A.W.G. type G trailing cable.
The No. 2 shuttle car was modified from an off-standard drive to a standard drive car. The trailing cable reel was left on the original side to facilitate the haulage system.
After the continuous-mining machine had been moved to the No. 5 working face and the shuttle-car trailing-cable anchorage points relocated, the routes of travel for the shuttle cars from the continuous-mining machine to the feeder were to be as follows:
- The No. 1 shuttle car was to travel from the No. 5 entry
across the last open breaks to the No. 3 entry and down
it to the section coal feeder, a distance of
approximately 420 feet.
- The No. 2 shuttle car was to travel from the No. 5 entry
across the last open break to the No. 4 entry, down No. 4
entry two crosscuts and across to No. 3 entry, and down
No. 3 entry to the section coal feeder, a distance of
approximately 400 feet.
- The No. 3 shuttle car was to travel from the No. 5 entry across the last open break to the No. 2 entry, down No. 2 entry one crosscut and across to No. 3 entry, and down the No. 3 entry to the section coal feeder, a distance of approximately 550 feet.
Examination of the No. 2 and No. 3 shuttle cars revealed that the lighting systems, the emergency de-energization devices, and the automatic emergency parking brakes were operable and functioning properly.
Pugh, an eyewitness, stated that both Dickerson and Sweet were facing the direction of travel, and the lights of both shuttle cars were shining in the direction of travel.
There were no ventilation controls in the crosscut that would have obstructed the shuttle-car operators' vision. The coal height was 40 1/4 to 44 inches at the scene of the accident. The section was developing the entries and crosscuts on 70-foot centers.
Failure to make the belt move required the three shuttle cars to dump on the straight end of the feeder instead of the normal three-sided dump system.
It was determined that the No. 2 shuttle car did not stop or slow down at the main intersection prior to colliding with the victim's No. 3 shuttle car.
The haulage system normally used was designed to dump the coal on the feeder from three different locations. The haulage system was designed for the No. 1 shuttle car to haul from the last open crosscut down the No. 3 entry and dump the load on the end of the tailpiece. The No. 2 shuttle car hauled from the last open crosscut down the No. 4 entry and dumped from the side. The No. 3 shuttle car hauled from the last open crosscut down the No. 3 entry and dumped on the side of the tailpiece. The system was altered due to the distance the shuttle cars had to travel when the belt move was not made when it was needed.
The accident and resultant fatal injury occurred when the No. 3 shuttle car was struck by the No. 2 shuttle car as it passed by the No. 4 to No. 3 crosscut.
Contributing factors were:
- The operator of the No. 2 shuttle car had poor
visibility, due to the mining height and height of the
- Three shuttle cars were using the same entry to approach
the section dumping point.
- A change from the normal haulage system had occurred at the beginning of the shift, and no additional precautions were taken to assure that the intersection was clear of traffic before the shuttle cars entered the No. 3 entry from the crosscut.
No contributing violations were observed.
Jerry E. Sumpter
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Roy W. Milam
Ronald O. Dunbar
Assistant District Manager
Michael J. Lawless
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