DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REPORT
FATAL POWERED HAULAGE ACCIDENT
P20 (I.D. 15-15845)
P & P, INC. OF KENTUCKY
MARTIKI SURFACE MINE (I.D. 15-07295)
MARTIKI COAL CORPORATION
LOVELY, MARTIN COUNTY, KENTUCKY
SEPTEMBER 19, 1997
MARK V. BARTLEY
ROOF CONTROL SPECIALIST
JOSEPH F. JUDEIKIS
Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
100 Ratliff Creek Road, Pikeville, Kentucky 41501
Carl E. Boone, II, District Manager
On Friday, September 19, 1997, Faye Edward Meek (victim), an employee of P & P, Inc. of Kentucky, was operating a 170-ton capacity Mark 36 Lectra Haul Truck, hauling coal from the No. 17 coal pit to the raw coal-dump at the Martiki Coal Corporation, Martiki Surface Mine (Preparation Plant). While traveling down an inclined roadway near the dump site, the truck was observed operating at an abnormally high rate of speed. The truck proceeded down the inclined portion of the roadway onto the near-level (2 percent grade) portion of the roadway approaching the preparation plant hopper site. The truck proceeded through the raw coal dump site guard rails, struck a concrete abutment and overturned, dropping approximately 65 feet in elevation. The truck came to rest upside-down on the raw coal crusher and belt conveyor structure. The victim was ejected from the operator's compartment resulting in fatal injuries. Evidence indicates the cause of the accident to be an inoperative retarding system (dynamic braking system) and diminished service brakes.
The Martiki Surface Mine of Martiki Coal Corporation (Martiki), is located off Kentucky Route 1714, near Lovely, in Martin County, Kentucky. The principal company officer is Joe Craft, President.
The Martiki Surface Mine, consists of: a preparation plant, shop facility, one slurry impoundment and two fresh water impoundments. Martiki also operates a dragline and several electric shovels under the same Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) mine identification number. Martiki has ten resident contractors on mine property with approximately 400 employees. Martiki owns most of the equipment used on the property; provides parts for all equipment, provides partial maintenance, and all engineering services.
P & P, Inc. of Kentucky (P&P) is a contract operator performing loading, bulldozer work, coal hauling, and other operational activities. They operate on Martiki property as the P20 (I.D. No. 15-15845). The coal is transported primarily in 170-ton capacity Mark 36, Lectra Haul, off-road trucks. Coal was being hauled from a pit over a distance of 4.2 miles to the raw coal dump, located at the preparation plant (I.D. No. 15-07295). P&P began operations on July 8, 1997, assuming the operation of the former contract operator, Charles Clearing Inc (I.D. No. 15-16497). P&P is a Kentucky Corporation whose officers are: Gary Howard, president; Isaac Pickett, vice-president; and Stan Bray, secretary/treasurer. The corporation address is 2265 Executive Drive, Lexington, Kentucky. The principal officer for health and safety for P & P is Isaac Pickett. The employees of P & P, Inc. of Kentucky are not represented by any labor organization. The company maintains a company office on Martiki mine property and P&P maintains management personnel who conduct on-shift examinations and direct the on-site workforce.
Bizwil, Inc., Contractor I.D. NO. PT9, performs overburden removal and J & J Coal Inc., Contractor I.D. NO. 6PE, performs coal loading operations, under the P & P production operator I.D. No. 15-15845.
There are numerous other contractors performing various functions (electricians, welders, blasting contractors, and truck drivers) unrelated to this accident.
Maintenance on the trucks used by P&P on Martiki property is performed by Martiki mechanics and electricians and/or mechanics employed by Ganote Enterprises Inc. (Contractor I.D. No. P5Y), a contractor for Martiki. Ganote Enterprises performs the primary field-mechanic work on equipment except for the dragline and shovels on the Martiki property. Ganote also has shop mechanics performing work in the Martiki shop building. Martiki performs some field-mechanic work and shop-work utilizing the Martiki shop building. Martiki-employed electricians perform electric wheel motor, dynamic retarder and associated control circuit and hardware repair work. Martiki personnel troubleshoot electrical problems on the Mark 36, Lectra Haul trucks used by P&P.
The Martiki Mining Complex extracts coal from primarily two coal seams: the Coalburg and Stockton seams. Martiki Coal Corporation currently employs 69 persons and P&P employs 110 persons on three production shifts and maintenance is performed throughout the day on the three shifts. The mine normally operates seven days per week and produces an average of 14,000 tons per day. The Martiki complex has approximately 400 contract employees working on the property.
The last complete health and safety inspection by the MSHA of the Martiki Surface (I.D. NO. 15-07295) was completed on August 6, 1997. A complete health and safety inspection had not been conducted at P & P, Inc. of Kentucky, P20 (I.D. No. 15-15845), by the MSHA. (Note: P & P, Inc. Of Kentucky started mining at the Martiki Mine on July 8, 1997.)
DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT
On Friday, September 19, 1997, at approximately 2:30 p.m., Fay Edward Meek, truck driver, arrived on mine property and reported to P&P's mine office to deliver insurance papers. He left the office site traveling to the nearby parking lot where the Mark 36, Lectra Haul trucks were parked. At 3:00 p.m., Meek began work under the supervision of Herbert L. Musick, P&P foreman. He was assigned to operate a 170-ton capacity, Mark 36, Lectra Haul truck, hauling coal from the No. 17 coal pit, to the raw coal hoppers at the Martiki preparation plant.
At approximately 7:30 p.m., Meek encountered problems getting the #078 truck to propel. Herbert Musick contacted Martiki Electrician's, Arthur William Audas and David Boyd, and informed them of the problem with the truck. Audas and Boyd responded to the truck, but could find no problems with the propel circuitry. After the examination, the truck began to operate in the propel mode. Meek then proceeded to haul coal from the No. 17 Pit to the raw coal hoppers at the preparation plant.
At approximately 8:15 p.m., Meek was informed by Scottie Joe Howard, truck driver, that his headlights were not operating properly. Herbert Musick informed Mike Haney, Martiki foreman, and he requested a mechanic to service the #078 truck. Rick Staniford, mechanic of Ganote Enterprises, met Meek near the raw coal hoppers, and found a bad control switch and replaced the switch. Meek then proceeded back to the No. 17 Pit.
Meek had completed four trips to the raw coal hoppers (as indicated by the counter located in the truck cab) and was returning to the raw coal hoppers via a 4.2 mile haulage road. Meek reached the top of an approximately 8 percent inclined roadway, approximately 3,160 feet from the raw coal hoppers, when according to eyewitnesses, they saw the truck accelerating down the incline at an excessively high rate of speed with fire coming from both rear wheel units.
Mike Dalton, a truck driver for P&P, stated that at the time of the accident he was hauling reject material from the filter building, located within sight of the 8 percent inclined roadway. He was traveling toward the inclined roadway when he noticed a Mark 36, Lectra Haul truck coming down the roadway at an abnormally high rate of speed. Dalton stated that he saw flames coming from the rear tire area of the truck as it passed his location and went out-of-sight. Within seconds, Dalton heard a loud noise.
At approximately 8:45 p.m., the truck passed Ruben Jones, driver for J.B. & A Trucking, who was traveling to the scale house. Jones stated the truck passed him at a high rate of speed and was traveling toward the raw coal hoppers. Jones stated that the wheels were glowing like a sun ball. He stated the truck disappeared over the raw coal hopper wall. Jones then began transmitting over his Citizens Band radio for assistance without a reply. Jones observed a white Jeep Cherokee being driven by John Buurman of Columbia Natural Resources traveling near the raw coal hoppers. Buurman stopped, and Jones asked him if he had seen a truck go over the hopper wall. Buurman said he didn't, but he did see a large truck passing him at an excessive speed. Jones then told Buurman to go get help. Jones went to the raw hopper wall to determine the location of the truck and driver.
Buurman drove a few hundred feet down the raw coal dump road and saw Michael Dalton operating an endloader and informed him of the accident. Dalton then got on the company radio and called for help. Mike Haney, a Martiki foreman, was contacted by Johnny Messer, a Ganote foreman, via company radio and informed him that a truck had run off the haul road near the raw coal hopper area. Haney and Glen Porter, another Martiki foreman, then proceeded to the raw coal hopper area. Johnny Messer had already arrived at the accident scene and informed Haney, upon his arrival, that the truck had gone over the raw coal hopper wall and fell onto the crushers and beltlines below.
Haney and Porter proceeded down the access road. Upon arrival at the crushers, located below the raw coal hoppers, the two men found the truck laying upside down on the beltline and crushers.
Glen Jones, the second shift preparation plant foreman, had become aware of the accident and had traveled to the accident site. Jones was on the scene when Haney and Porter arrived. He informed the two men that he had checked the cab of the truck and could not locate the driver. The three men then began to search the area for the driver. A few minutes later, Meek was located laying on the crusher walkway. The truck had ripped out the area lighting provided in the raw coal hopper area. The preparation plant electrician contacted the three men and informed them that he needed to de-energize the electricity in the accident area. The three men momentarily retreated from the immediate accident area and waited for the electricity to be disconnected. After the electricity had been disconnected, the three men crossed over metal and debris and checked Meek for a pulse. Jones found no pulse or respiration. During his examination of Meek, Jones noted a severe head wound and immediately requested an ambulance. Meek was then moved to a safer location away from the accident scene due to the presence of overhanging metal, diesel fuel, and other obstructions where the truck had gone over the raw coal hopper structure.
Martin County Ambulance Service arrived at the scene and the Martin County coroner was called to the scene. Rex Endicott, Martin County Coroner, pronounced Faye Edward Meek dead at 10:13 p.m.
Russell Wilson, a representative of P&P, called Donnie Johnson, MSHA supervisor at 10:10 p.m. and informed him of the accident. Johnson contacted, Hobert Webb, MSHA inspector and the two proceeded to the accident site.
Company personnel informed the Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals, and the Kentucky State Police of the accident.
INVESTIGATION OF ACCIDENT
A preliminary examination of the accident scene was conducted. Results from this examination indicated that an extensive investigation would be needed to determine the cause(s) of the accident. Due to initial indications, a request was made to MSHA Technical Support for expertise in the area of truck braking systems. Joseph Judeikis, mechanical engineer, was dispatched to the scene for evaluation and testing of the braking system on the truck involved in the accident (#078).
Due to the location of the accident site and the extent of damage to the #078 truck, a determination was made to recover the truck and relocate it to a site more suitable for testing. Cranes were used to recover the truck from the accident site. A lowboy truck was then used to transport the truck to a designated area for further investigation.
Once the truck had been relocated, a complete examination was conducted on the truck's braking and electrical systems.
Martiki Coal Corporation contracted several technical consultants to be present during the examination of the accident truck and to assist with MSHA's investigation.
The investigation revealed the following factors relevant to the occurrence of the accident:
- The truck (Company #078) involved in the haulage accident of
September 19,1997, was a 170-ton Mark 36, Lectra Haul Truck
manufactured by Unit Rig & Equipment Company (Serial #312,
manufactured in 1978).
- The truck flipped upon impact with the steel reinforced
concrete hopper retaining wall and dropped approximately 65
feet onto the No. 2 raw coal crusher and beltline.
- The truck was not designed with roll-over protection (ROP).
Rollover protection was not required on this truck.
- The operator's cab was found to be intact after the
- The front windshield of the truck was dislodged from the
vehicle during the accident.
- The victim was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the
accident. Interviews with other Mark 36, Lectra Haul truck
drivers revealed that seatbelts were seldom used while
vehicles were in use.
- The victim was found laying on the elevated walkway at the
No. 2 raw coal crusher, approximately 12 feet from the
operators compartment of the overturned truck.
- The roadway on which the victim was traveling at the time of
the accident had an initial incline of approximately 8
percent for approximately 2,135 feet. The remainder of the
roadway near the raw coal hoppers was at approximately 2
percent for approximately 1,025 feet.
- The primary means of slowing Mark 36, Lectra Haul trucks on
inclined roads is by activating the electrical retarding
system, to slow the vehicle down to approximately three
- Examination of the truck indicated that the armature circuit
of the blower-exciter on the truck was open due to improper
maintenance of the brushes. The brushes for the blower-
exciter rotor circuit were as follows: Brushes in the set
that were within specifications measured 1.1", 1.4", 1.3"
and 0.95". Brushes in the set that were inadequate or not
making contact measured .55", 0.7", 0.7", and the brush that
was not making contact with the commutator was 1.8". One
brush that was 0.7" long showed indications of making some
recent contact with the exciter's commutator. The other
0.7" long brush and the brush that was 0.55" long showed no
indications of recent contact with the commutator. The
manufacturer states that the nominal minimum working length
of brushes on the exciter is 1".
- The length of the brushes on the blower-exciter unit fell
significantly below the manufacturers designated operational
length. The resultant lack of current sent from the blower-
exciter to the motor fields prevented a flux field from
being created. A lack of motor field current prevented
electrical wheel units from acting as generators, thus no
retarding action was present.
- All power relays on the truck were tested after the accident
and found to be operative.
- The control relays on the truck were destroyed to such a
degree that testing was not possible.
- All programmable logic controller (PLC) cards on the truck
were tested and found to be operative.
- The resistive grid packages provided on the truck for
retarding purposes were tested and found to be intact and
within the manufacturers specified values.
- The air pressure activation switch for the retarding system
was tested and found to be operative.
- The wheel unit drive motor brushes were checked and found to
be maintained at an operative length and condition.
- External power cabling was examined and found to be intact,
except for some damage which occurred during the accident.
- There was no damage to the exciter during the accident.
- According to the manufacturer, the service brakes on Mark
36, Lectra Haul trucks are designed to stop a fully loaded
truck during an emergency situation with the designed
maximum load without the use of the retarder.
- The front brakes were determined to be inoperative at the
time of the accident. The right front brake assembly had
seal damage which resulted in zero braking capacity for this
brake assembly. Pressure tests conducted on the left front
brake calipers indicated that zero braking effort was
available at the left front wheel. Inspection of the left
front actuator revealed seal failure similar to that found
of the right front actuator.
- Pressure tests performed on four air-over-hydraulic
actuators on the rear of the truck revealed that the brakes
were capable of developing 78% of the braking force designed
by the manufacturer. All four air-over-hydraulic actuator-
return breathers were open to allow air passage, as tested
after the accident.
- Acceptable levels of fluid were found in three of four air
-over hydraulic reservoirs (the fourth reservoir, the right
front, was destroyed in the accident).
- Brake lining thickness was acceptable on the four rear
- All brake disc thicknesses were adequate, except the left
front disc which measured 0.077 inches under size.
- The auxiliary steering motor and hydraulic pump were tested
and found to be operational and capable of producing
hydraulic pressure up to a 1700 PSI relief pressure setting.
The manufacturer specifies that the minimum pressure
necessary for proper operation is 1500 PSI.
- The auxiliary steering pump activation button in the
operator's cab was observed to be in the initiated (on)
position. Insufficient evidence was available to determine
if the operator activated the button intentionally or if the
button was activated inadvertently.
- During the investigation the power wire to the auxiliary
steering pump was found to be broken. Insufficient evidence
was available to determine if the wire was broken before,
during, or after the accident.
- Rex Endicott, Martin County Coroner, listed the cause of
death as trauma to the back of the head as a result of being
ejected from a vehicle and striking the back of the head on
an object (rock).
- The victim had approximately 22 years of mining experience
as a truck driver.
- The victim had received all required training.
- Martiki Coal Corporation maintenance program for Mark 36, Electra Haul trucks was inadequate. This is evident by the maintenance deficiencies of the truck involved in the accident and other Mark 36, Electra Haul trucks examined following this occurrence. Each of the trucks inspected following the accident was observed to have braking deficiencies and other mechanical and safety defects. All violations not contributing directly to this occurrence were issued on a separate inspection code to both Martiki Coal Corporation and P & P Inc. of Kentucky.
The accident occurred when the electrical retarding system failed to operate. The inadequately maintained service brakes could not provide enough braking force to stop the truck after the retarding system failed.
- A 103(k) Order (No. 4519768) was issued on September 19,
1997, to P & P, Inc. of Kentucky to ensure the safety of the
miners working in the area and to ensure that the area was
not disturbed so that an investigation can be conducted.
- A 103(k) Order (No. 4007054) was issued on September 20,
1997, to Martiki Coal Corporation to ensure the safety of
the miners working in the area and to ensure that the area
was not disturbed so that an investigation can be conducted.
- 104(a) citation (No. 4007060) was issued on October 22,
1997, to P & P, Inc. of Kentucky for failure to provide the
#078 Unit Rig Mark 36 Truck with service brakes that would
stop the truck in an emergency situation, a violation of 30
CFR, Section 77.1605(b).
- A 104(a) Citation (No. 4214403) was issued on October 22,
1997, to Martiki Coal Corporation for failure to provide the
#078 Unit Rig, Mark 36 Truck with service brakes that would
stop the truck in an emergency situation, a violation of 30
CFR, Section 77.1605(b).
- A 104(a) Citation (No. 4490920) was issued on October 22,
1997, to P & P, Inc. of Kentucky for failure to maintain the
#078 Unit Rig Coal Hauler in a safe operating condition, a
violation of 30 CFR, Section 77.404(a). Electrical
components were not maintained as required by the
manufacturers specifications, preventing the retarding
system from functioning.
- A 104(a) Citation (No. 4490918) was issued on October 22, 1997, to Martiki Coal Corporation for failure to maintain the #078 Unit Rig Coal Hauler in a safe operating condition, a violation of 30 CFR, Section 77.404(a). Electrical components were not maintained as required by the manufacturers specifications, preventing the retarding system from functioning.
Mark V. Bartley
Roof Control Specialist
Joseph F. Judeikis
Michael Keene for
Carl E. Boone, II
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin: