Mechanic Leslie Trent and toplander Clifton Smith, both employees of independent contractor Frontier-Kemper Constructors, were in the process of removing a large two-part sheave from a hoist at Perry County Coal’s Upper Second Creek Portals the evening of November 23. Both were located under the raised boom of a pivot hoist when the incident occurred.
“The miners performed this work without first ensuring that the raised boom was securely blocked in position,” MSHA investigators found.
“The hoist boom unintentionally fell approximately 8 feet, striking the two miners. Management failed to ensure that the hoist boom was securely blocked in position prior to allowing work to be conducted by miners underneath the boom.”
Smith, the injured worker, was treated for his injuries and released November 24. Trent, who was airlifted from the minesite to a local medical center, died from his injuries at 2.30am November 24.
MSHA issued a non-contributory citation to Frontier-Kemper for its failure to report the incident within 15 minutes, as required under 30 CFR section 50.10. Investigators said the situation was reported to the nationwide hotline 41 minutes after the 5.50pm accident.
The agency also found in its review of the scene that all preshift, onshift and daily hoist examinations required under 30 CFR part 77 had been conducted and no hazardous conditions were reported. Additionally, training records reflected that all employees were in compliance with part 48 training requirements.
“Management did not have a policy in place to require and ensure that equipment in a raised position was securely blocked in position prior to miners being allowed to work underneath the raised equipment,” MSHA noted in its root causes for the incident.
To remedy that shortfall, it ordered mine management to develop an action plan regarding the process and institute it as company policy. The operator also trained all employees on the new outlines.
“The operator [also] did not ensure compliance of MSHA regulations by the independent contractor, Frontier-Kemper Constructors, with regard to practices related to blocking the raised hoist boom prior to miners being allowed to work underneath the raised equipment,” the agency said.
To rectify that, the operator removed the existing crane from the minesite and replaced it with a different unit which does not require sheave wheel replacement for normal operation.
MSHA issued two citations relating to the incident, one to the mine owner and one to the contractor, and both relating to a violation of (A01) 30 CFR section 77.405(b) – failure to ensure the raised boom was securely blocked into position.
The Upper Second Creek Portals is a shaft development project where, at the time of the incident, two ventilation shafts were being constructed to connect the existing E3-1 and E4-1 mines.
The operation's non-fatal days lost incident rate was zero at the time of the accident, versus the national NFDL incident rate of 10.61 in the class in 2009.