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District 2

(Underground Coal Mine)


Bailey Mine(I.D. 36-07230)
Consol PA Coal Co
Graysville, Greene County, Pennsylvania

February 7, 1997


Joseph R. O'Donnell, Jr.
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector


Joseph M. Hardy
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
New Stanton District Office
RR1, Box 736, Hunker, Pennsylvania 15639
Joseph J. Garcia, District Manager


The Bailey Mine, operated by Consol PA Coal Co, is located near Graysville, Greene County, Pennsylvania. The mine is opened by eight shafts and one slope into the Pittsburgh coal seam which averages 69 inches in thickness. Employment is provided for 348 persons underground and 69 persons on the surface. The mine produces coal three shifts per day six days per week.

Five continuous mining sections and two longwall sections produce an average of 24,987 tons of coal daily. Coal is transported from the face areas to the section loading point by a chain conveyor on the longwall sections and by shuttle cars on the continuous mining sections. Coal is then discharged onto a series of belt conveyors and transported to the surface preparation plant. Clean coal is transported by unit train to various customers.

The principal officers of the operation are as follows:
B. R. Brown...................................Chairman of the Board
B. M. Statler.................................. President
L. W. Hull......................................Vice President

The last Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) regular Safety and Health Inspection at this mine was completed December 30, 1996.


Friday, February 7, 1997, crews arrived for the start of the 8:00 a.m. shift. Dan Marunich, longwall foreman and six workers traveled to the 17B longwall section. Coal production was not expected this shift due to the main slope conveyor belt being repaired. Arriving on the section at approximately 8:40 a.m., Marunich assigned work for the day. Robert Fluharty and Don Verardi, longwall system operators, were to repair the rock dust hose and monorail at the stageloader. Charles Brinker and Greg Harvey, longwall system operators, were to install roof supports on the belt entry at No. 26 stopping. Joseph Sciascia, longwall system operator and Joseph Jackson, mechanic, were assigned to replace the ram jack (jack) at No. 157 shield. Work progressed without incident into the afternoon.

After replacing the jack at No. 157 shield, Sciascia and Jackson loaded the broken jack onto the face conveyor. Jackson traveled to the master control at the stageloader conveyor and started the face conveyor. The conveyor was operated until the jack reached the shearer at No. 30 shield where Sciascia stopped the conveyor using the stop switch (lockout switch). The shearer was raised to allow clearance for the jack to pass under it. The conveyor was restarted and operated until the jack approached No. 5 shield where Sciascia again used the stop switch to stop it. From there to the end of the face conveyor, the jack was moved in increments of four to five feet. When the jack reached the end of the face conveyor, Sciascia turned the stop switch located at the No. 5 shield to the lockout position. Verardi, having heard the face conveyor operating, went to assist in moving the jack onto the stageloader chain conveyor.

Marunich was traveling to the tailgate to begin the section preshift examination when he met Jackson at the master control and Sciascia and Verardi at the end of the face conveyor. Marunich checked the progress of their work at approximately 1:40 p.m. and proceeded toward the tailgate.

Verardi and Sciascia stepped onto the face conveyor and moved the jack by hand from the face conveyor onto the stageloader conveyor. The jack was aligned on the flights and in the chains on the stageloader conveyor. The outby end was slightly off-center towards the face side. Sciascia went to the face side of the stageloader while Verardi traveled to the No. 5 shield to reset the stop switch. Verardi walked to the master control side of the stageloader and called to Jackson to jog the stageloader conveyor 5 to 10 feet so he could check if the jack had shifted prior to jogging it through the crusher. Jackson asked Verardi if Sciascia was clear. Verardi indicated to Jackson that Sciascia was in the clear on the face side at the crusher. Jackson jogged the conveyor. The jack, traveling further than Verardi had anticipated, entered the crusher area and a loud noise was heard by Verardi and Sciascia.

The exact location of the jack could not be determined because it had entered the enclosed portion of the stageloader conveyor. The stageloader conveyor chain is enclosed starting six feet before the crusher entrance and extending the length of the stageloader conveyor. Verardi called to Jackson telling him to hold it so they could see if the jack had cleared the crusher. While standing on opposite sides of the stageloader, Verardi and Sciascia attempted to lift the belt flap located at the entrance to the crusher, but were unable to lift it. Sciascia stepped onto the conveyor to lift the belt flap. At the same time, Jackson, thinking that he heard that the jack had cleared the crusher, called back to Verardi that it was through and he was going to jog it again. Jackson started the stageloader conveyor and Sciascia was pulled through the crusher. Verardi began shouting and Jackson stopped the conveyor.

Verardi and Jackson called for help and immediately began searching for Sciascia. Marunich, hearing the call for help, returned to the stageloader. Sciascia was found at the access doors near the center of the stageloader at approximately 1:45 p.m. Sciascia was removed from the stageloader and placed onto a stretcher. Marunich detected a slight pulse; cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was started and continued while transporting Sciascia to the Bailey Shaft bottom. Bob Wise, Mine Foreman, and Larry Deemer, Shift Foreman, who are trained emergency medical technicians, took over and continued CPR. They arrived on the surface at 2:40 p.m. Washington Ambulance and Chair Service paramedics transported Sciascia to Washington Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 3:38 p.m. The cause of death was listed as multiple blunt force trauma.


MSHA was notified at 2:30 p.m. on February 7, 1997, that a serious accident had occurred. MSHA arrived at the mine at 3:30 p.m. A 103 (k) Order was issued to ensure the safety of the miners until an investigation could be conducted.

MSHA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection jointly conducted the investigation with the assistance of mine management personnel.


The investigation revealed the following factors relevant to the occurrence of the accident:
  1. The mine was idle due to repair work on the main slope conveyor belt.

  2. The 17B panel is approximately 900 feet in width and 9,000 feet in length. A total of 178 Gullick shields make up the longwall face roof support system. Coal is mined using a Joy 4LS-6 double drum shearer. The stageloader and face chain conveyors are manufactured by American Longwall. The face conveyor moves at a rate of 311 feet per minute empty. The stageloader conveyor moves at a rate of 450 feet per minute empty.

  3. The stageloader is 90 feet long with a 38-inch wide chain conveyor. Two chains spaced on 6-inch centers are positioned in the middle of the conveyor tying the flights together. The flights are installed every 34 inches. The stageloader conveyor starting at the inby end is open for the first 12 feet. From this point to the discharge end, for about 78 feet, the stageloader is enclosed.

    The first 3 feet of the stageloader is positioned under the face conveyor. The next 6 feet on the face side is open; the conveyor in this area is about 4 inches above the ground. The remaining 3 feet on the face side has a graduated side board that extends to a maximum height of about 4 feet at the crusher entrance. On the master control side, along the 9 feet from the face conveyor to the inby end of the enclosed portion, the stageloader conveyor has a side board approximately 4 feet high.

  4. The entrance of the crusher is located approximately 12 feet from the inby end of the stageloader. The crusher is located 6 feet outby this point. A rubber belt flap is positioned over the entrance to the crusher for dust control. The opening into the crusher measures 42.5 inches in width and 19 inches in height. The vertical clearance in the crusher varied from 7 to 9-1/2 inches. The crusher was not operating at the time of the accident.

  5. The ram jack being transported at the time of the accident was manufactured by Gullick. According to the manufacturer's specifications, the jack is 61.75 inches in length (collapsed) and 8.25 inches in diameter and weighs approximately 800 pounds.

  6. Heavy parts, such as the jack, are moved out of the longwall face area by using the face conveyor and stageloader conveyor. The movement of the part is controlled by starting and stopping the chain conveyor. Approximately every 100 feet along the face conveyor (about every 20 shields), there is a stop/lockout switch that can be used to stop the face conveyor and the stageloader conveyor. A pullcord attached between switches extends from No. 5 shield to the tail end of the face conveyor. In the lockout position, these switches prevent starting of both conveyors. Once the switch is turned to lockout position, or the cord pulled, the switch must be turned to the reset position before either conveyor can be started.

    To start or restart the face conveyor, the stageloader operator must initiate the start sequence at the master control located at the stageloader. When the start sequence is initiated for the face conveyor, an alarm is sounded along the face for 3 to 5 seconds before the face conveyor actually starts running.

    Persons working along the face are able to contact the stageloader operator via the speaker phones located at each stop switch.

    Because of the reduced clearance at the crusher, the larger parts being moved from the face are removed at the inby end of the stageloader. Smaller parts, which will fit, are moved through the stageloader crusher to the section belt. Once the parts reach the section belt conveyor, they are removed from the belt onto equipment and transported out of the mine.

  7. To control movement of parts outby along the stageloader, the operator alternates pushing the start and stop buttons on the master control with his index fingers to jog the conveyor motor. There was no means to stop the stageloader conveyor along the stageloader except at the master control. The stageloader conveyor was not equipped with a pre-start alarm.

  8. The distance between the entrance of the crusher to the master control where Jackson was positioned was about 30 feet. Jackson's visibility between him and the victim was obstructed by four prop setters and some brattice cloth on top of the stageloader conveyor housing and by a dip in the roof.

  9. Verardi stated that after he and Sciascia had aligned the jack on the stageloader conveyor, he told Jackson to jog the conveyor 5 to 10 feet so they could check the position of the jack prior to moving it through the crusher.

    Jackson said that he did not hear Verardi say to jog it 5 to 10 feet, only to jog the conveyor. He assumed he was to jog it through the crusher on the first movement as would normally have been done.

    After Jackson jogged the stageloader conveyor, Verardi said he called to Jackson to hold up, that they wanted to see if the jack had cleared the crusher. Verardi said Jackson responded but he could not understand what Jackson had said. Jackson stated that when Verardi called to him, he thought Verardi said the jack had cleared the crusher and so he responded saying that he would jog the conveyor again. No background noise that would have affected their communication was evident.

  10. Both Verardi and Jackson stated that the three of them had worked together many times performing this same task. The normal procedure was to take the jack through the crusher on the first jog.

  11. An operational test of the longwall electrical control system was conducted. No deficiencies were found.

  12. After the accident, mine management had the microprocessor control programmed to provide a pre-start alarm for the stageloader conveyor. In the automatic mode, an alarm is given with a 5-second delay prior to the starting of the crusher motor and another 5-second delay prior to the starting of the conveyor motor. In manual mode, a 5-second delay is provided after the alarm, prior to the starting of the conveyor motor.

    In addition, stop/lockout switches, of the same type used along the face conveyor, were mounted on both sides of the stageloader at the crusher entrance to enable stopping and locking out of the conveyor motor.


The accident occurred because of the failure of the workers to maintain positive communications. Contributing factors to the accident were the lack of a pre-start warning for the stageloader conveyor and a means at the crusher entrance to stop/lockout the stageloader conveyor.


  1. A 103 (k) Order was issued to ensure the safety of miners until an investigation could be conducted.

  2. A Notice To Provide Safeguard was issued requiring that the stageloader conveyor on the 17B section and all other stageloader conveyors used in this mine be provided with a means to stop/lockout the stageloader motor along the entire length of the stageloader conveyor on the master control side.

  3. A Notice To Provide Safeguard was issued requiring that the stageloader conveyor on the 17B section and all other stageloader conveyors used in this mine be provided with a pre-start warning that can be heard along the entire length of the stageloader conveyor.

Respectfully submitted by:

Joseph R. O'Donnell, Jr.
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector


Joseph M. Hardy
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Approved by:

Joseph J. Garcia
District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon FAB97C04