DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
Accident Investigation Report
(Underground Coal Mine)
Fatal Fall of Roof Accident
Candice 2 (I.D. No. 46-08429)
Mystic Energy Inc.
Wharton, Boone County, West Virginia
December 27, 2002
Bobby G. Moreland
Accident Investigator/Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector (Electrical)
Jerry W. Richards
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector (Roof Control)
William R. Williams
Pittsburgh Safety & Health Technology Center
Mining Engineer - Roof Control Division
Pittsburgh Safety & Health Technology Center
Mining Engineer - Roof Control Division
Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
100 Bluestone Road, Mount Hope, West Virginia 25880
Edwin P. Brady, District Manager
Release Date: February 28, 2003
On December 27, 2002, about 6:20 p.m., an unplanned roof-fall accident occurred on the 003-0 MMU, North Section. The accident resulted in the death of Sidney Green, a 52 year old mobile bridge operator with 20 years of mining experience. The victim was in the intersection of the No. 5 entry as mobile roof supports (also referred to as MRS) were being repositioned. Jerry Bonds, mobile roof support operator, received serious non-fatal injuries.
The fall (estimated to be 27 feet long by 8 feet-to-18 feet wide by 1 foot-to-6 feet thick), covered the No. 1 mobile roof support, struck the two miners and the rear of the No. 3 mobile roof support. Bonds was removed from the mine about 7:30 p.m., and transported by the Boone County Ambulance Authority to Health Net and then to the Charleston Area Medical Center, General Division located in Charleston, Kanawha County, West Virginia. Green was removed from the mine about 8:30 p.m., and transported by the Boone County Ambulance Authority to the West Virginia Medical Examiners Office located in Charleston, Kanawha County, West Virginia where he was pronounced dead by the medical staff.
The Candice 2 Mine, Mystic Energy Inc., is located near Wharton, Boone County, West Virginia. On August 5, 1994, Mystic Energy Inc., began mining in the lower Winifrede coalbed. The Winifrede coal-bed, averages 60 inches in thickness, and is penetrated by 6 drift openings at the Candice Portal and 4 drift openings at the Winifrede Portal. The mine is ventilated with a 7 foot Jeffrey fan, producing 210,000 cubic feet of air (cfm) at the Candice Portal and a 5 Foot Joy fan, producing 120,000 Cubic feet of air (cfm) at the Winifrede Portal.
The mine is developed using the room and pillar mining system. Coal is extracted from two retreat mining sections and one advancing mining section using Joy 14-15, remote control, continuous mining machines. Coal is transported from the retreat pillar line and advancing faces by mobile bridge units, then onto the belt conveyor system which carries the coal to the surface. The mine produces approximately 5,000 tons of raw coal daily. The mine employs 114 persons, working three 8-hour shifts per day, six days per week.
Coal is produced on the day and evening shifts and maintenance is performed on the midnight shift. The underground crews enter the mine through drift openings and are transported to the working sections via track-mounted, self-propelled, personnel carriers and self-propelled, rubber-tired, personnel carriers.
The immediate mine roof consists of weathered shale and sandstone with thin coal streaks The approved roof control plan specifies installation of roof bolts at a minimum of 4-feet lengthwise and 4-feet to 5-feet crosswise spacing. This mine liberates zero cubic feet (cfm) of methane in a 24-hour period. A Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) inspection (AAA) was in progress at the time of the accident.
Principal officers of Mystic Energy Inc., at the time of the accident were Steve Houchins, President; Roger Dean, Vice President; Fred Thomas, Secretary; Jimmy Dotson, Treasurer; Steve Houchins, Superintendent; Fred Houchins, Mine Foreman; and John Shirkey, Section Foreman.
The Non-Fatal Days Lost (NFDL) incidence rate during 2002 was 9.04 for underground coal mines nationwide and 0.00 for this mine. *
The Non-Fatal Days Lost (NFDL) incidence rate during 2001 was 7.23 for underground coal mines nationwide and 2.84 for this mine. *
* Investigation of records subsequent to the accident revealed that the operator failed to report 13 lost time accidents or illnesses for the years 2000, 2001 and 2002.
On December 27, 2002, about 2:30 p.m., the second shift crew, under the direct supervision of John M. Shirkey, section foreman, entered the mine via track-mounted, self-propelled, personnel carriers and transferred to self-propelled, rubber-tired, personnel carriers en route to the section. Coal production started in the left pillar block of the No. 7 entry at approximately 3:15 p.m. continued in the No. 6 entry, and moved into the pillar blocks of the No. 5 entry about 5:30 p.m..
Ron Steele, continuous-mining-machine operator, completed mining of the pillar blocks in the No. 5 entry and at about 6:10 p.m., backed the continuous-mining-machine out of the right pillar block to an outby location. The process of moving the mobile roof supports out of the entry began when Bert Gravely, mobile roof-support operator, moved the No. 3 mobile roof support from its pushout position to a location near the active pillar line in the No. 5 entry. At the time of the accident, Jerry Bonds (injured), and Gravely were operating the four mobile roof supports located in the No. 5 entry and right crosscut. Michael Dillon, Leon Sturgill, Rick Kinser, and Sidney Green (victim) had been operating the mobile bridge units. Steele, David Martin, continuous-mining-machine helper, Jim Martin, scoop operator, and Ron Sturgill, electrician, were performing other work duties on the active section.
Witnesses stated that Green came to the No. 5 intersection shortly before the accident and positioned himself between the No. 1 and No. 3 mobile roof supports. They also stated that they did not know why he was in that area.
Bonds had just depressurized the No. 1 MRS when he saw the roof begin to fall. Recognizing that Green was positioned under the falling material between the No. 1 and No. 3 supports, Bonds stated that he attempted to repressurize the No. 1 unit to stop the fall. The roof fall covered the No. 1 MRS and struck the rear of the No. 3 MRS. The fallen material covered Green and partially covered Bonds. Bonds was uncovered and removed from the fall area immediately. There was no response to attempts to communicate with Green.
Gravley was located on the right side of the No. 5 entry near the No. 2 and No. 4 mobile roof supports when the roof fell, and escaped the roof fall by running down the No. 5 entry where he met Steele.
Efforts to rescue Green involved moving large fallen rock by hand. Crews worked from the crosscut between the No. 4 and No. 5 entries. At approximately 6:40 p.m., rescuers found Green (victim) in the intersection, between the No. 1 and No. 3 mobile roof supports. A primary assessment of Green by the company EMT showed no vital signs. Green was transported to the surface at approximately 8:30 p.m. and transported by the Boone County Ambulance Authority to the West Virginia Medical Examiners Office in Charleston, Kanawha County, West Virginia where he was pronounced dead by the medical staff.
MSHA was notified at 7:00 p.m., on December 27, 2002, that a serious accident had occurred. MSHA accident investigators were dispatched to the mine. A 103 (k) order was issued to insure the safety of the miners until the accident investigation could be completed. The investigation was conducted in cooperation with the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training (WVOMHST), with the assistance of the operator and their employees. Persons who participated, were interviewed, and/or present during the investigation are listed in Appendix A of this report.
Representatives of MSHA, the WVOMHST, miners, and company officials traveled underground to conduct an investigation of the physical conditions at the accident site. Photographs and relevant measurements were taken. Sketches and a survey were also conducted at the site. The physical portion of the investigation was completed on December 28, 2002. Interviews with persons who had knowledge of the accident were conducted on December 30 and 31, 2002, January 2 and 3, 2003, and January 21, 2003 at the Mine Safety and Health Administration, Field Office located at Uneeda, West Virginia. The investigation also included a review of training records and records of required examinations.
A review of training records indicates that training had been conducted in accordance with the 30 CFR, Part 48.
A review of records and observation of the physical evidence indicates that the required examinations had been conducted in accordance with the 30 CFR.
1. The Candice 2 mine operates in the Lower Winifrede coalbed. According to the approved roof-control plan, overburden at the mine site varies from 250 feet to 550 feet and the coal seam thickness is approximately 60 inches. Coalbeds mined above the present mining operation are Buffalo Creek, 260 feet and Lower Stockton, 525 feet. Coalbeds mined below the present mining operation are the Hernshaw, 161 feet; Campbells Creek, 332 feet; No. 2 Gas, 418 feet; and Powellton, 418 feet.
2. The accident occurred while retreat mining was being conducted on the 003-0 MMU, North Section. The section had been developed by 7 entries on 60 foot centers and crosscuts angled at 60 degrees on 90 foot centers.
3. The fatal roof fall was in the intersection of the No.5 entry inby survey station No. 11518. The fall was estimated to be 27 feet long, 8 to18-feet wide, and 1 to 6 feet thick. The fallen rock covered the No. 1 mobile roof support, rear of the No. 3 mobile roof support and part of the intersection.
4. During development of this area, 42-inch fully-grouted bolts with 6 inch by 6 inch bearing plates were installed as primary roof supports.
5. A preshift examination of the 003-0 MMU, North Section was made between 5:00 a.m., and 6:00 a.m., by the 3rd shift mine examiner. Another preshift examination was conducted between 1:30 p.m., and 2:00 p.m., by the day shift examiner on the day of the accident.
6. The crew had mined both left and right in the No. 5 entry pillar blocks and were in the process of moving the four mobile roof supports outby the active pillar line when the accident occurred. Four Fletcher, model 13 &13A, mobile roof supports were being used.
7. The mine roof at the accident scene was composed of weathered slate and sandstone. Similar roof conditions were present throughout the 003-0 MMU.
8. Entry height was about 67 inches at the accident scene. Approximately 60 inches of coal had been mined at this location. Overburden is estimated to be 250 feet to 550 feet at the accident scene. The width of the No. 5 entry was measured to be 19 feet to 20 feet.
9. The method being used to move the mobile roof supports at the time of the accident was not in compliance with the approved roof control plan. The approved roof control plan stipulates that only one of the MRS units is to be depressurized at a time, that the units are to be moved in pairs, and when moving, each unit is to be offset not more than one-half the length of the companion unit. Physical evidence showed that the No. 1 and No. 3 mobile roof supports were depressurized from the roof at the same time. The No. 1 and No. 3 mobile roof supports were approximately 8 to 10 feet apart, one positioned in front of the other. Additionally the approved roof-control plan requires all persons to be in the clear when the mobile roof supports are raised or lowered while in the active pillar line. Physical evidence indicates that all personnel were not in the clear when the mobile roof supports were lowered. The victim and MRS operator were positioned near and/or between the units at the time of the accident.
10. Two parallel cracks in the roof of the No. 5 entry reduced the stability of the roof where the accident occurred. This instability in conjunction with the method being used to move the mobile roof supports created the hazard which caused the death of one miner and seriously injured another.
A root cause analysis was performed on the accident. The following root causes were identified:
1. Causal factor - Unsafe mining methods were being used.
Root cause - Mine management and miners did not adhere to provisions of 30 CFR and the approved roof control plan. Personnel demonstrated a disregard for the dangers posed by conditions created when unsafe mining methods were used.
2. Causal factor - Persons worked and/or traveled under unsupported roof.
Root cause - It had become acceptable to operate and/or perform maintenance on the mobile roof supports while under unsupported roof at this operation.
It is the consensus of the investigation team that the direct causes of the fatal accident included: provisions of the approved roof-control plan were not being followed and persons worked and/or traveled under unsupported roof in the No. 5 entry.
A 103(k) Order No. 3569006 was issued to Mystic Energy Inc., to ensure the safety of all persons in the mine until an investigation was completed and all areas and equipment were deemed safe.
A 107(a) Order No.7205663 was issued to Mystic Energy Inc., for the unsafe practices of manually tramming of the mobile roof supports, lowering more than one mobile roof support at a time, not moving the mobile roof supports in pairs, persons not being in a clear position when raising or lowering the mobile roof supports, and persons traveling and/or working under unsupported roof.
A 104(a) Citation No. 7205664 was issued to Mystic Energy Inc., for a violation of 30 CFR Part 75.202(b) stating in part that persons were traveling and/or working in the unsupported area of the active pillar line while moving the mobile roof supports.
A 104(a) Citation No. 7205665 was issued to Mystic Energy Inc., for a violation of 30 CFR Part 75.220(a)(1) stating in part that the operator failed to comply with provisions of the approved roof-control plan. All persons were not in the clear when the mobile roof supports were lowered.
A 104(a) citation No. 7205674 was issue to Mystic Energy Inc., for a violation of 30 CFR Part 75.220(a)(1) stating in part that the operator failed to comply with provisions of the approved roof-control plan. The depressurized No. 1 and No. 3 mobile roof supports were 8 to 10 feet apart inline with each other instead of being moved in tandem, not more than one-half the length of the companion unit.
A 104(a) citation No. 7205675 was issued to Mystic Energy Inc., for a violation of 30 CFR Part 75.220(a)(1) stating in part that the operator failed to comply with provisions of the approved roof control plan. More than one mobile roof support unit was being lowered and moved at a time while in the active pillaring area.
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
APPENDIX - A
Steve Houchins* . . . . . . . . . President
Roger Dean . . . . . . . . . Vice President
Fred Houchins* . . . . . . . . . Mine Foreman
John Shirkey* . . . . . . . . . Section Foreman
Doug Williams, Jr. . . . . . . . . . Safety Director
David Hardy . . . . . . . . . Attorney
Burge Speilman . . . . . . . . . Safety Consultant
Bert Gravley* . . . . . . . . . Mobile Roof Support Operator
James Asbury* . . . . . . . . . Mobile Roof Support Operator
Rick Cline . . . . . . . . . Mobile Roof Support Operator
Michael Dillon . . . . . . . . . Mobile Bridge Operator
David Epperhart . . . . . . . . . Mobile Roof Support Operator
Robert Estepp, Jr. . . . . . . . . . Mobile Roof Support Operator
Ronald Kidd* . . . . . . . . . Mobile Roof Support Operator
Rick Kinser . . . . . . . . . Mobile Bridge Operator
James Martin . . . . . . . . . Scoop Operator
Wendell Rollins . . . . . . . . . Miners Representative
Ronald Sturgill . . . . . . . . . Electrician
Ronald Steele* . . . . . . . . . Continuous-Miner Operator
David Martin . . . . . . . . . Continuous-Miner Operator (Helper)
Jerry Bonds* . . . . . . . . . Mobile-Roof-Support Operator
Leon Sturgill . . . . . . . . . Mobile Bridge Operator
Mike Bailey . . . . . . . . . Foreman
Raymond Smith . . . . . . . . . Maintenance Foreman
Rick Glover . . . . . . . . . International Health and Safety Representative
Terry L. Farley . . . . . . . . . Health and Safety Administrator* Persons interviewed
Harry Linville . . . . . . . . . Inspector-at-Large
Steve Cox . . . . . . . . . Safety Instructor
John Kinder . . . . . . . . . District Inspector
William Bentley . . . . . . . . . Roof Control Inspector
Larry McKnight . . . . . . . . . District Inspector
Bobby G. Moreland . . . . . . . . . Accident InvestigatorSketch of Accident Scene (PDF)
Jerry W. Richards . . . . . . . . . Roof Control Specialist
Jim Beha . . . . . . . . . Accident Investigation Coordinator
Terry D. Price . . . . . . . . . Supervisory Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Thurman L. Workman . . . . . . . . . Roof Control Specialist
Jackson Nunnery . . . . . . . . . Coal Mine Health and Safety Inspector
James Maynard . . . . . . . . . Coal Mine Health and Safety Inspector
Sharon Cook . . . . . . . . . Educational Field Services
William Williams . . . . . . . . . Pittsburgh Safety & Health Technology Center - Mining Engineer
John R. Cook . . . . . . . . . Pittsburgh Safety & Health Technology Center - Mining Engineer