Skip to content


Southeastern District
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health

Accident Investigation Report
Surface Nonmetal Mine

Fatal Electrical Accident

Kentucky Solite Corporation
Kentucky Solite Corporation
Brooks, Bullitt County, Kentucky
Mine I.D. 15-00187

May 16, 1997


James B. Daugherty
Supervisory Mine Inspector

Donald R. Baker
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Terry G. Lingenfelter
Mine Safety and Health Inspector(Electrical)

Originating Office
Mine Safety and Health Administration
135 Gemini Circle, Suite 212
Birmingham, Alabama 35209

Martin Rosta
District Manager


Paul L. King, finish plant supervisor, age 40, was electrocuted at approximately 2:15 p.m. on May 16, 1997, when he came into contact with the metal casing of a water pump that was energized with 120 volts AC. The victim had 20 years experience at this mine, the last 16 as finish plant supervisor. Records indicated he had received annual refresher training in February 1997.

Michael McHugh, chief supervisor for Kentucky Solite Corporation, notified the Birmingham, Alabama, district office of the accident at 3:30 p.m., on May 16, 1997. An investigation was started the same day.

The Kentucky Solite Corporation, a multiple bench shale and clay operation, owned and operated by Kentucky Solite Corporation, was located off Highway 1020 in Brooks, Bullitt County, Kentucky. The principal operating official was Patrick Piazza, general plant manager. The mine normally worked one, 8-hour shift a day, 5 days a week and employed 46 persons.

The material was drilled, blasted, crushed, and sized on site. It was then conveyed to stockpiles where it was sold as lightweight aggregate.

The last regular inspection of this operation was conducted April 15-17, 1997.


The accident occurred in the lower sump of the finish plant building. The sump was constructed of concrete and measured 12 feet wide, 18 feet long and 5 feet deep. The sump was accessed by a metal stairway. At the time of the accident, the sump contained approximately 10 inches of water.

A 3 HP, 120 volt AC sump pump manufactured by the Zoeller Pump Company was located in the sump. Power for the pump was supplied from a wall outlet by two extension cords.

The 120 volt AC outlet was located on the south wall of the first floor of the finish plant building and was protected by a 20 amp single pole circuit breaker located in a panel on the second floor electrical control room. Electrical metallic tubing was used as the grounding conductor from the panel to the outlet.

One extension cord was an 18/3 AWG SO cord about 20 feet long and the other was a 16/3 AWG SO cord about 25 feet long. Both cords recently had new female ends installed.

The extension cord nearest the sump pump was improperly wired by having the ground wire connected to the hot terminal, the hot wire connected to the neutral terminal and the neutral wire connected to the ground terminal.

The extension cord plugged into the wall outlet had the hot wire connected to the neutral terminal and the neutral wire connected to the hot terminal resulting in reverse polarity. This configuration of the two extension cords caused the casing of the pump to be energized.


Paul L. King, victim, reported for work on May 16, 1997, at 6:00 a.m., his regular starting time. King proceeded with his normal duties as supervisor. About 1:00 p.m. he was observed walking toward the finish plant building. There were no witnesses to the accident. However, since employees stated that the pump was not in the sump earlier on the day of the accident, it is believed King put the pump in the sump and connected the power cords. Apparently when the pump failed to start, King went to check on it and was electrocuted.

At approximately 3:15 p.m. Ernest Sparks, scalehouse operator went into the office and the secretary asked Sparks if King had gone home. Sparks said that King's personal vehicle was still in the parking lot and his office door was still open.

At this time, several employees went into the plant area to look for King. Sparks went to the finish building and found King laying in the sump on his right side with his left foot on the bottom step of the metal stairway with his face under water.

Sparks immediately disconnected the two extension cords going to the pump and called for help. Several employees went to the scene while Mike McHugh, chief supervisor called 911. The employees checked for vital signs but were unable to detect a pulse. The Bullitt County Sheriff's Department, emergency management service and County Coroner arrived on the scene about 3:40 p.m. The Coroner pronounced the victim dead at 3:45 p.m. and estimated the time of death to be about 2:15 p.m. The cause of death was electrocution.


The cause of the accident was improper repair to extension cords and failure to test the cords after repairs were made.


Order No. 4554445
Issued on May 17, 1997, under the provisions of Section 103(k):

Paul King, an employee, was discovered face down in the lower crusher house crusher sump area by a fellow employee. The cause of his death was unknown at this time. This order is issued to insure the safety of persons and preservation of the evidence present including the cooling sump, all equipment and items in the area and electrically powered equipment until the affected area of the mine has been investigated by the investigation team and this order has been modified or terminated.

This order was terminated on May 20, 1997, at 0900 hours. MSHA has completed the investigation of the finished plant. All equipment, lower sump, electrically powered equipment and items in the area is hereby released to plant management.

Citation No. 4521026
Issued on May 20, 1997, under provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of Standard 56.12028:

A complete test of continuity and resistance of grounding systems was not being conducted annually and after repairs. The sump pump was not tested annually and the two power cords connected to the sump pump was