DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
North Central District
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health
Accident Investigation Report
Surface Nonmetal Mine
(Sand and Gravel)
Fatal Machinery Accident
Waterland Trucking Service, Incorporated
Pioneer No. 6 Mine
Milford, Livingston County, Michigan
I. D. No. 20-02869
Date of Injury: April 29, 1998
Date of Death: May 8,1998
Steven M. Richetta
Supervisory Mine Safety and Health Inspector
James M. Hautamaki
Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Terence M. Taylor
Mine Safety and Health Administration
515 W. First Street, #333
Duluth, MN 55802-1302
Felix A. Quintana
Frederick J. Koss, heavy equipment operator, age 39, was fatally injured at about 11:35 a.m. on April 29, 1998 when he was struck on the head by a broken chain while attempting to tow a truck which was stuck. Koss had about 20 years total mining experience and had worked for this company as a heavy equipment operator for the past 10 years. He had not received training in accordance with 30 CFR Part 48.
MSHA was notified at 6:50 a.m. on the day following the accident by a telephone call from the operations manager for the mining company. An investigation was started the same day.
The Pioneer No. 6 mine, an open pit sand and gravel operation, owned and operated by Waterland Trucking Service, Inc., was located at Milford, Livingston County, Michigan. The principal operating officials were Daniel W. Holloway, president, and Steven W. Lemons, operations manager. The mine was normally operated one, 11-hour shift a day, five days a week. A total of four persons was employed.
Sand and gravel was extracted from the pit with front-end loaders and a dragline. The material was then sized and stockpiled for sale as construction aggregate.
The last regular inspection at this operation was completed November 20, 1997. Another inspection was conducted following this investigation.
PHYSICAL FACTORS INVOLVED
The accident occurred in an area adjacent to a mined out section of the pit. The overburden had been stripped and the underlying sand and gravel contained clay which was soft in places. The mining company was in the process of reclaiming this area by backfilling with topsoil. Trucks delivering topsoil would routinely back toward the pit edge and dump their loads. A bulldozer would later push the topsoil into the pit. This area was sloped about 4% in the direction the truck was being towed.
The bulldozer involved in the accident was a 1989 Dresser, model TD-20G, powered by a 225-HP engine. It was equipped with a roll over protective structure but was not provided with an enclosed cab.
The truck involved in the accident was a 1997 Mack, model CL700 powered by a 425-HP engine with a 13-speed transmission. Tandem trailers containing topsoil were in tow. Gross weight of the rig was estimated at 158,000 pounds.
The chain used to tow the truck was one-half inch in diameter and about 8 feet long with a grab hook on one end and an eye sling hook on the other end. It was manufactured by Crosby Group, Inc. of grade 8 alloy steel. The working load limit of the chain was 12,000 pounds with a safety factor of four. When tested, the chain exceeded its rating before failure occurred.
Aside from the failed link, which was the third link from the grab hook, none of the other links had exceeded the industry elongation standard of 3 percent. A re-enactment of the hitch showed that the failed link was most likely in contact with the outermost bottom corner of the steel push bar at the rear of the trailer. The loading on the failed link would have been in direct tension from the pull of the chain and bending from the reaction caused by the corner of the push bar. These two combined effects caused the link to bend inward on the side in contact with the corner of the push bar. These forces resulted in the failure of the link along its side.
Weather conditions at the time of the accident were cool and cloudy.
DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT
On the day of the accident, Frederick Koss (victim), reported for work at 7:00 a.m., his normal starting time. He operated a pan scraper until about 11:20 a.m., when an over-the-road truck owned by Chippewa Contracting, Inc. arrived with a load of topsoil.
This was the first time the truck's driver, Kirk D. Moffett, had delivered topsoil to this mine, so Koss drove the pan scraper ahead of the truck to show Moffett where to dump. After they arrived at the dump area, Koss pointed to the area where he wanted Moffett to unload. When Moffett pulled off the roadway onto the stripped area, the truck became stuck. Koss told Moffett that he would get the bulldozer to pull the truck out.
Koss drove the bulldozer to where the truck was stuck, backed up to it, and attached the chain from the draw pin of the bulldozer to the push bar on the back of the rear trailer. He moved the bulldozer forward and pulled the truck from where it had been stuck. The truck was not positioned straight enough to back up further so Moffett unhooked the chain and pulled the truck forward to straighten the two trailers. He then tried twice to back up, but became stuck each time. Koss told him not to try anymore, that he would pull him backward to where the material should be dumped. Moffett again attached the chain and got back in the truck. The truck moved momentarily and then stopped. Moffett got out of the truck and walked to the rear to see what had happened. He saw that the chain had broken and Koss was slumped over in the bulldozer with head injuries. Moffett called for help on his CB radio and a call to the local 911 emergency response number was relayed from the scale office.
At the same time, James W. Niswander, truck driver for Chippewa Contracting, Inc., arrived at the scene. He heard the radio call and assisted Moffett in attending to Koss's wounds, along with John H. Beach, foreman, and Michael G. Truhn, quality control technician. Koss was air lifted to a hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan where he died on May 8, 1998.
The accident was caused by the company's failure to provide proper towing equipment and instruction for safely towing vehicles. The chain used for towing failed because it did not have the capacity to resist the combined loading effects of direct tension and bending from the unpadded corner of the trailer push bar.
Citation No. 7825146 was issued on June 10, 1998 under the provisions of Section 104(d)(1) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.14209a:
An employee was seriously injured at this mine on April 29, 1998, when he was struck on the head by a chain that broke while under load. The victim died as a result of his injuries. The chain was not properly sized and failed while towing a truck with a bulldozer. Failure to provide a properly sized tow bar or other effective means for towing is a serious lack of reasonable care and is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory safety standard.
This citation was terminated on June 19, 1998:
The mine operator has established a safe procedure for towing equipment. Proper towing attachments have been provided and workers have been trained in their use.
Citation No. 7825147 was issued on June 10, 1998 under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 50.10:
An accident occurred at this operation at about 11:35 a.m. on April 29, 1998, when a bulldozer operator was struck on the head by a chain that broke while under load. MSHA was not notified of the accident until 6:50 a.m. the following day. The victim died on May 8, 1998.
The citation was terminated on June 18, 1998:
The mine operator established written procedures that mandate all serious injuries will be immediately reported to MSHA.
Citation No. 7825148 was issued on June 10, 1998 under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 50.12:
An accident occurred at this operation on April 29, 1998, when a bulldozer operator was struck on the head by a chain that broke while under load. The victim died as a result of his injuries. The mine operator altered the accident site before an investigation could be conducted by MSHA. The bulldozer was moved to a parking area nearby and the other vehicle involved was allowed to leave the property.This citation was terminated on June 18, 1998:
The mine operator established written procedures that mandate the scene of any accident involving serious injuries will not be altered prior to an MSHA investigation other than to remove injured persons.
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin: