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District 2

(Underground Coal Mine)

Fatal Machinery Accident

Mine 84 (ID No. 36-00958)
Eighty Four Mining, Co.
Eighty Four, Washington County, Pennsylvania

March 28, 1997


Thomas G. Todd
Mining Engineer

David Lewtag
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector (Electrical)

Robert C. Boring
Electrical Engineer
Technical Support
Approval and Certification Center

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


Mine 84, operated by Eighty Four Mining Co., is located near Eighty Four, Washington County, Pennsylvania. The mine is opened by eight shafts and one slope into the Pittsburgh coal seam which averages 70 inches in thickness. Employment is provided for 471 persons underground and 51 persons on the surface. The mine produces coal three shifts per day six days per week.

One longwall section and six continuous-mining machine sections produce an average of 26,000 raw tons daily. Coal is transported from the face areas to the section loading point by a chain conveyor on the longwall section 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.

The principal officers of the operation are as follows:
Thomas W. Garges, Jr...........................Chairman of the Board
Robert A. McGregor.............................President and Chief Executive Officer
Thomas H. Simpson...............................Superintendent

The last Mine Safety and Health (MSHA) regular Safety and Health Inspection at this mine was completed March 27, 1997.


At approximately 6:30 a.m., on Friday, March 28, 1997, Bob Rasel, chief electrician, received a report that the Joy 12CM12-11BX continuous-mining machine in the North Mains section would not tram. Rasel then instructed Joseph Kois, shift maintenance foreman, to check on this problem between shifts. At approxi- mately 8:00 a.m., Kois entered the mine with Lewis A. Radomile and George F. Galensky, mechanics, to begin troubleshooting and repair of the continuous-mining machine in the North Mains Section, before the day shift crew arrived. The day shift production crews normally enter the mine at 9:00 a.m. and the midnight crews arrive on the surface at 8:00 a.m.

After arriving at the North Mains Section, Kois, Radomile and Galensky proceeded to the continuous-mining machine which was broken down in the last open crosscut between the 0 and 1 entries. The machine was positioned parallel to the south rib, with the cutting head facing west in the crosscut and approxi- mately 2-3 feet between the machine and the rib. Radomile took the radio remote control from the continuous-mining machine and with all three men standing to the right rear of the continuous-mining machine, attempted to tram it forward. The machine trammed forward a few feet and then stopped. Radomile then attempted to tram the machine in reverse. The continuous-mining machine trammed backward a few feet and stopped.

Radomile and Kois then moved to the left (south) side of the machine to view the diagnostic light panel located behind a lens in the tram contactor enclosure. Kois stood to the left of the tram contactor enclosure in a bent position, to view the input and output lights. Radomile crouched down to the right of the tram contactor enclosure holding the remote control in front of him. Radomile used the remote control to send signals to the machine so that he and Kois could observe the input and output lights flash on the diagnostic panel. Suddenly, the continuous-mining machine pivoted, swinging the rear end to the left, pinning both Radomile and Kois between the machine and the rib. The radio remote control was pushed into Radomile's chest and abdomen. Radomile called out "Get this machine off of me." Kois immediately yelled for Galensky to "knock the power" on the continuous-mining machine. Galensky opened the main circuit breaker in the operator's compartment of the continuous-mining machine and then went to get help from other workers in the North Mains Section.

Joe Richie and Mike Reese, underground utility men, who were truss bolting in the No. 3 entry of the North Mains Section, heard Galensky shouting for help. The two men proceeded toward the No. 1 entry when they saw Galensky and were told that Radomile was pinned by the continuous-mining machine and to get a scoop. Richie immediately ran to get the section scoop located approximately five crosscuts outby the accident scene. Reese ran to the accident scene with Galensky, saw Radomile and Kois and called to Radomile, but received no response. Reese then moved a shuttle car out of the adjacent crosscut so that the scoop could be brought in by Richie and then went for the section first aid equipment and emergency supplies.

On his way to get the scoop, Richie called the dispatcher on the mine phone to inform him of the accident and requested help. The dispatcher recorded the call at 9:02 a.m. Richie then proceeded to the scoop where he encountered Ed Montanari, mason, and Dale Dimarzio, beltman, and informed them of the situation. Richie started back to the accident scene in the scoop with Montanari and Dimarzio following. On the way, the men met Reese with the emergency supplies, helped load the supplies onto the scoop and then hurried to the accident scene.

Kois, who was pinned in a standing position, was able to free himself and helped in the attempt to free Radomile. When Richie arrived at the accident scene with the scoop, Galensky and Kois were trying to tram the continuous-mining machine away from the victim, using the tram levers located in the operator's compartment. The machine would not move. Montanari then got on top of the continuous-mining machine to try to resuscitate Radomile. Richie positioned the scoop bucket under the continuous-mining machine and unsuccessfully attempted to move it. Richie, a former continuous-mining machine operator, then got out of the scoop and tried to move the continuous-mining machine by using the on-board controls with no success. Reese got in the scoop and moved the continuous-mining machine on his second attempt. Montanari was then able to free Radomile. Montanari, Kois and Galensky placed Radomile on the stretcher and Montanari began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on Radomile. The men placed the stretcher on top of the scoop and traveled out of the section while continuing CPR.

When they arrived at the track, the victim was placed on a mantrip and transported out of the mine. CPR continued to be administered until the men arrived on the surface at approxi- mately 9:23 a.m., at which time emergency care and transport was taken over by Bentworth Ambulance Service. Radomile was transported to Washington Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 10:11 a.m.


MSHA was notified at approximately 9:20 a.m. on March 28, 1997, that a serious accident had occurred. MSHA arrived at the mine at about 11:00 a.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, miners and representatives of the miners.


The investigation revealed the following factors relevant to the occurrence of the accident:

  1. The North Mains section, MMU 053, is comprised of five entries with a single return air split on the left side. The entry height in the last open crosscut, between 0 and 1 entries, was approximately 90 inches.

  2. The continuous-mining machine involved was a Joy 12CM12-11BX, Serial No. JM7476, Approval No. 2G-3334A-02.

  3. At approximately 6:00 a.m., on the midnight shift, March 28, 1997, while tramming in the last open crosscut of the North Mains section, between 0 and 1 entries, the continuous-mining machine stopped tramming and could not be moved. The tramming problem was an intermittent problem which had been occurring for approximately two months. Records indicated the following repairs were previously made in an attempt to correct the problem:

    3/19/97 - Replaced Remote Control
    3/19/97 - Tram Overload Stuck Open
    3/22/97 - Changed Tram Overload
    3/24/97 - Changed Left Tram Heater Strip

  4. There were no other operational deficiencies reported with the Joy continuous-mining machine. When the continuous-mining machine was in operation, it was sensitive to all control commands and no erratic movement was encountered.

  5. The exact location of the continuous-mining machine prior to the accident could not be determined. However, based on information received during this investigation, there was approximately 2-3 feet between the continuous-mining machine and the south rib before the accident occurred.

    After the accident occurred and the continuous-mining machine had been moved and Radomile freed, there was 1.35 feet between the continuous-mining machine and south rib.

  6. The remote control was pinned against Radomile's chest and abdomen, which prevented the use of the remote control to move the continuous-mining machine away from Radomile. The remote control unit measured 13 inches long by 11 inches wide by 9 inches high.

  7. According to company records, Radomile was employed as an underground mechanic for approximately 21 years. Statements made by management and labor indicated Radomile was knowledgeable in the maintenance and operation of underground equipment including remote control continuous-mining machines.

  8. At the time of the accident, there were no other radio remote controls on or near the North Mains Section; therefore, no other remote controls could have initiated movement of the continuous-mining machine.

  9. The two maintenance employees were in a close space while using the remote control to operate the various machine functions. This location was dictated by the location of the diagnostic panel. The diagnostic panel observation was a normal part of the troubleshooting procedure.

  10. An examination of the operator's compartment on the continuous-mining machine showed that the canopy was lowered; the seat was removed; the area was filled with extraneous materials; the panic bar was inoperable and the foot switch, necessary to operate the continuous-mining machine using the on-board controls, was disconnected. Discussions with management and labor indicated that the continuous-mining machine was intended to be operated only by radio remote control.

  11. In an effort to identify the cause of the tram problem, the following electrical components were removed from the continuous- mining machine for examination and testing.

Tests to assess the performance of the machine's radio remote control components (remote control station, transmitter, receiver, and demultiplexer units) were conducted at the MSHA Approval and Certification Center. The remote controls functioned as expected after each switch closure on the remote control station. Also, additional checks of the remote control unit showed that whenever RF communication between the transmitter and receiver was interrupted by disconnecting the transmitter battery supply or by separating the transmitter from the receiver beyond the range of the transmitter, the demulti- plexer assembly sensed the loss of signal and indicated the shut-down of machine functions as expected.

Tests to verify the electrical operation of the tram drive firing package and of the gate drive power bridge units for the left and right tram circuits were conducted by Magnetek, Inc. and witnessed by Dave Lewetag and Robert Boring. No operational defects were found.

After extensive field and laboratory tests, the cause of the continuous-mining machine intermittent tram problems could not be determined. However, after the above components had been replaced, there were no further reports of tramming problems.


The cause of this accident was the result of several factors. The continuous-mining machine had developed operational problems that caused the tramming mechanism to respond intermittently to the tram control when it was activated. The location of the machine when it finally quit tramming during the production shift placed the diagnostic panel side of the machine near the coal rib. Normal troubleshooting procedures to determine the cause of the tramming malfunction required observation of the diagnostic panel for the information displayed. This caused Kois and Radomile to be in a tight, vulnerable position between the machine and rib. While troubleshooting, the continuous-mining machine suddenly pivoted towards Kois and Radomile pinning them against the rib. The inability to have another means to tram the continuous-mining machine, other than the remote which was caught with the victim, may have been a factor in the severity of the injury. However, if the on-board controls had been operational, they may not have worked due to the nature of the tramming problem.


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

  2. There were no violations observed that contributed to the accident.

  3. During a subsequent spot inspection, two 104(a) citations were issued.

Respectfully submitted by:

Thomas G. Todd

David Lewetag

Robert Boring

Approved by:

Joseph J. Garcia
District Manager--Coal Mine
Safety and Health, District 2

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