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District 9

(Underground Mine)

Fatal Powered Haulage Accident

Crandall Canyon Mine (ID No. 42-01715)
Genwal Resources, Inc.
Huntington, Emery County, Utah

Victor Products USA (UTM)
Warrendale, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

December 17, 1997


Fred L. Marietti
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector (Electrical)

Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
Coal Mine Safety and Health, District 9
P.O. BOX 25367, DFC, Denver, CO 80225-0367

John A. Kuzar, District Manager


On Wednesday, December 17, 1997, at about 11:30 a.m., a fatal powered haulage accident occurred on the 4th West longwall setup section. The accident resulted in the death of Jeffrey G. Porch, a service engineer for Victor Products U.S.A., manufacturer of the longwall lighting system. The accident occurred as a chain conveyor was being installed in the stageloader. A 5/8-inch wire rope, attached to the chain conveyor and pulled by a diesel forklift, was used for this work. The wire rope passed from the stageloader, through a sheave anchored to a roof bolt, and around a coal pillar to the diesel forklift. As the forklift pulled the wire rope, the chain conveyor moved into the stageloader until a conveyor flight became stuck under the tail roller. This condition overloaded the wire rope/sheave system. Porch and three miners walked into the area when the overloading caused the roof bolt to break, releasing the sheave and the tensioned wire rope. Porch and two of the miners were struck by the wire rope and/or sheave as it propelled through the area. The two miners were taken to the hospital, treated, and released. Porch was taken to the hospital, but died at 7:26 p.m., on December 17, 1997.


The Crandall Canyon Mine is an underground coal mine located 18 miles northwest of Huntington, Emery County, Utah on Highway 31. The mine employs 97 persons underground and 16 persons on the surface. The mine is operated by Genwal Resources, Inc. and owned by Andalex Resources, Inc. The mine operates three 8½ hour shifts per day, five days per week and produces an average of 13,000 tons of coal daily.

The mine is accessed by drift openings through the Main North entries into the Hiawatha coal seam, which averages eight feet in thickness. The 4th West longwall setup section (accident site) is about four miles from the main portal.

There are two production and one maintenance shifts per day. The mine has one two-entry development section and one longwall retreating section. The coal is transported from the sections by belt conveyors to a truck loadout on the surface.

Intermountain Electronics, Inc. (Intermountain), independent contractor number 8EF with offices in Price, UT, provided and installed the lighting system on the 4th West longwall. The lighting system (model ISL5) was manufactured by Victor Products USA (Victor), independent contractor number UTM. Victor is located in Warrendale, PA. Victor and Intermountain each had an employee on the 4th West longwall on the day of the accident. Victor's employee was fatally injured and the Intermountain employee, though not injured, was an eyewitness to the accident.

The last Mine Safety and Health Administration regular safety and health inspection was completed on December 5, 1997.

Principal officials at the mine were:

Laine W. Adaire...............................General Manager
Jim Pruitt..........................................Safety Manager/Director

Principal official for Intermountain Electronics, Inc. was:

John Houston....................................President/Owner

Principal official for Victor Products USA was:

Barry Wilson....................................Executive Vice-President


On December 17, 1997, Robert Oviatt, day shift section foreman for the 4th West longwall setup section, and 13 miners proceeded underground at about 7:00 a.m. They arrived at the section and Oviatt assigned various longwall setup tasks. He had Gale Anderson, longwall headgate operator; Angelo Konakis, longwall tailgate shearer operator; and Jared Childs, longwall headgate shearer operator, begin installation of the chain conveyor in the stageloader. Oviatt then left to conduct the on-shift examination.

After the start of the shift, Jeffrey Porch, victim and an employee of Victor Products USA, and Travis Graves, an employee of Intermountain, entered the mine with Mike R. Hurst and Derk Bradley, general mine mechanics. They went to the 4th West longwall setup section to work on the lighting system.

Oviatt conducted the on-shift examination, assigned work to the other miners, and returned to help install the stageloader chain conveyor. The conveyor was stretched out on the mine floor in front of the head roller on the outby end of the stageloader. A 5/8" wire rope was attached to the end of the chain conveyor. This rope was threaded from the conveyor into the stageloader, around the tail roller, and out past the head roller. The rope continued outby through a sheave (3/4" x 8") anchored on a roof bolt at No. 26 crosscut, through No. 26 crosscut, around the pillar, and outby in the No. 1 entry to a Wagner diesel forklift, model LST-5S-25X. The forklift was to be used to pull the wire rope and move the chain conveyor into the stageloader.

At 11:00 a.m. the wire rope was connected and the crew was ready to pull the chain conveyor into the stageloader. Childs operated the forklift in the No. 1 entry. Konakis was positioned in the No. 1 entry at No. 26 crosscut and was in sight of and in verbal communication with Childs. Oviatt operated a Bobcat loader on the left side of the No. 2 entry, inby No. 26 crosscut. He used the Bobcat to straighten the chain conveyor as it came around the corner into the stageloader. He was in sight of and in verbal communication with Anderson who was at the head roller end of the stageloader. Anderson watched as the chain conveyor entered the stageloader. Oviatt could not see Konakis, but they communicated by hollering and flashing their caplamps on the outby rib of No. 26 crosscut.

Pulling of the conveyor went smoothly until about 11:30 a.m., when the chain conveyor stopped moving. Oviatt and Anderson assumed that the forklift had stopped pulling, although Oviatt had not received any communications to that effect. The chain conveyor, however, had became stuck between the tail roller and the bottom pan of the stageloader. This condition was unknown to the persons pulling the conveyor.

At this time, Hurst, Bradley, Porch, and Graves, who were working at the longwall controller located beside the stageloader, needed parts from their personnel carrier parked in the No. 1 entry. They decided to walk to the vehicle for the parts and eat lunch. They walked outby toward where Anderson was standing. Anderson felt that, since the chain conveyor was not moving, there was no hazard in them proceeding outby. Oviatt, thinking the forklift had stopped pulling, backed the Bobcat into the rib to allow them to cross the chain conveyor.

Graves crossed the chain conveyor and stepped under the tensioned wire rope toward the left rib. He stopped near the rib, outside the affected area of the tensioned wire rope. He turned to watch as the other three crossed the chain conveyor and turned into crosscut No. 26 between the tensioned rope and the Bobcat. They proceeded in the crosscut toward the No. 1 entry. Graves said he did not know why he didn't follow the others. The three walked in single file with Porch in the middle. Suddenly, the roof bolt holding the sheave broke. The rope and sheave whipped, striking Bradley, Porch, and Hurst on the left side of their bodies with a tremendous force knocking them down.

Konakis heard and saw the rope whip. He immediately signaled Childs with his caplamp to stop, and then he ran into the crosscut. Childs said that he had only been idling the forklift during the pull because it was going smoothly. He saw Konakis signal him to stop and he immediately stopped and secured the machine. He then ran into the crosscut.

Konakis went to Porch and removed material from around his mouth to clear his airway. Graves then took over assisting Porch. Konakis went to Bradley who said his back hurt. He told Bradley that he was on the chain conveyor and to lie still, that he would be okay. Childs assisted Graves with Porch. Childs then saw Hurst without any assistance and went to him. Hurst was talking incoherently and Childs talked to him, assuring him that he would be okay. Oviatt was in the Bobcat when the accident occurred. He immediately climbed out of the Bobcat and told Anderson to phone outside for help. He then went to Porch who was not breathing and started CPR. Anderson called outside and requested help. He then returned to help Oviatt who was still giving CPR to Porch.

First aid equipment was brought to the scene. Bill Jackson, longwall propman; Hubert Wilson, general mine labor; Scott Rowley, loadout operator/EMT; Jim Pruitt, safety manager/ director, and other miners brought in additional first aid equipment and assisted in administering first aid to the injured persons. Porch was given first aid and CPR during transportation out of the mine. He was transferred to an ambulance and EMT's continued medical treatment during transportation to the Castleview Hospital at Price, Utah. From there Porch was life flighted to the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah where he was pronounced dead at 7:26 p.m. on December 17, 1997. Hurst and Bradley were transported to the Castleview Hospital, examined, x-rayed and treated for bruises, lacerations and contusions and released.


  1. Jim Pruitt, safety manager/director, stated that miners involved in the longwall move were given a safety talk titled, "Longwall Move Safety," prior to the move. He said that contractors, who only require hazard training, were not given this safety talk.

  2. Porch, Graves, Bradley, and Hurst were not informed that the chain conveyor was being pulled into the stageloader prior to them entering the section nor after they arrived.

  3. Porch, Graves, Bradley, and Hurst were allowed to enter the chain conveyor pulling area where they were exposed to the extremely hazardous conditions of the tensioned wire rope pulling system. They were not made aware of the hazards in this area.

  4. The wire rope was not pulled safely. The rope was not straight from the sheave to the tail roller and rubbed against the metal crossframe of the stageloader at the head roller. It also rubbed against the heavily weighted steel monorails in the No. 2 entry, and rubbed against the coal rib where the rope turned into the No. 1 entry. This increased the friction and tension on the rope and the pulling system. The rope was not connected to the forklift with a device designed to prevent the rope from being crimped and possibly cut by the square steel hook to which it was attached.

  5. Positive communications were not established between Konakis, Oviatt, Anderson, and Childs which could have detected the stuck chain conveyor condition, or whether the forklift had stopped pulling.

  6. The miners at the stageloader did not realize that the chain conveyor had become stuck. They assumed the conveyor had stopped due to the diesel forklift stopping. The stuck chain conveyor caused a tremendous overload on the pulling device. This caused the roof bolt, which supported the sheave and wire rope, to fail.

  7. The Wagner diesel forklift was a model LST-5S-25X, Approval Number 31-118-1, with a Caterpillar 3306 engine. The machine operator stated that the forklift had only been idling during the pull, and he had no indication of an overloading condition. The Wagner forklift is a powerful machine capable of exerting tremendous force to most pulling devices, even with the engine idling.

  8. The new stageloader chain conveyor was larger than the old one, which caused the normal installation procedures to change. The normal procedure for handling the chain conveyor was to have it loaded into a metal tub and placed in front of the outby end of the stageloader. A wire rope would then be attached to the chain conveyor to pull it into the stageloader. A new, larger stageloader had been installed with wider chain conveyor flights which would not fit in the old tub. A new tub was ordered from a local fabricator, but was not ready in time for this move.

  9. The sheave used in the wire rope pulling system was attached to a cateye hanger with a clevis. The hanger was attached to a 3/4" x 60" grade 60, fully grouted resin roof bolt manufactured by Jennmar Corporation. The bolt sheared near the head of the roof bolt. The bolt head and a 37¼ inch portion of the roof bolt were examined and tested by the Mine Safety and health Administration's Pittsburgh Safety and Health Technology Center. The roof bolt portion had been recovered from the mine roof by Genwal Resources personnel. A tension test of the bolt segment was conducted on April 30, 1998. The results indicated that the bolt exceeded the minimum requirements of ASTM F432-88 by a considerable margin. The bolt head appeared to have failed from a combination of axial and bending stresses, imparted by the shear-type loading of the cateye hanger. No evidence suggesting a defective bolt was found.

  10. The persons assigned to perform the pulling task were not located in a safe position.

  11. The stageloader was a MTA stageloader, model PF-4, manufactured by Mine Techniq America, located in Price, Utah.


The cause of the accident was management's failure to implement safe procedures for the task of installing the chain conveyor in the stageloader utilizing mobile equipment and pulling mechanisms. Management did not establish positive communications between the persons involved in the pulling task; did not danger off or secure the area; and permitted miners to enter this hazardous area without any knowledge of the hazards.


A 103(k) Order, No. 4891441, was issued on December 17, 1997, to ensure the safety of any person in the coal mine until an investigation could be conducted.

A 314(b) Safeguard, No. 4890746, was issued on April 20, 1998, requiring that, when mobile equipment and/or tensioned pulling devices such as wire ropes, straps, chains, etc. are used to pull materials, supplies, or equipment, the area will be dangered off or secured to prevent anyone from entering. Positive communications shall be maintained with all persons involved in the pulling task. Equipment that is used must be properly designed, maintained, and installed. Pulling devices shall not be pulled around coal ribs and other objects which cause additional friction and stress. Proper connections, i.e., clevises, hooks, pins, etc., shall be used at all connecting points. The minimum number of persons required to perform the task shall be allowed in the pulling area. The persons performing the task shall be in a protected location from system failure and protected from flying objects. The persons in the surrounding area will be notified of the pulling task.

Submitted by:

Fred L. Marietti
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector(Electrical)

Approved by:

Cheryl McGill,
Acting Assistant District Manager
  for Inspection Programs

John A. Kuzar
District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon FAB97C28