DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health
Report of Investigation
Surface Nonmetal Mine
(Sand and Gravel)
Fatal Powered Haulage Accident
April 21, 2000
Darwin Stratton & Son, Inc.
Hurricane, Washington County, Utah
ID No: 42-02283
Dennis D. Harsh
Supervisory Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Stephen D. Wegner
Mine Safety and Health Inspector
D. Michael Campbell
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Rocky Mountain District
P.O. Box 25367, DFC
Denver, CO 80225-0367
Irvin T. Hooker, District Manager
On April 21, 2000, Candi Reeve, wash plant operator, age 18, was fatally injured when she became entangled in the conveyor belt tail pulley. The accident occurred because management had not established procedures that required moving machine parts to be guarded. The victim was assigned to operate the plant alone which was likely a factor contributing to the severity of the accident.
Reeve had a total of one month mining experience, one week as a plant wash operator. She had not received training in accordance with 30 CFR Part 48.
Rattlesnake Pit, a surface sand operation, owned and operated by Darwin Stratton & Son, Inc., was located near Hurricane, Washington County, Utah. The principal operating official was Clayton Darwin Stratton, president. The mine normally operated one, 8-hour shift a day, five days a week. Total employment was one person.
Sand and gravel was extracted from a dry stream bed and transported by truck to the adjacent plant, where it was stockpiled. The material was fed into the plant hopper and conveyed to a single- deck screen where the oversize material was separated. The sand was fed into a screw classifier and mixed with water to remove unusable material. The finished sand was sold for use in concrete and the gravel was sold for subbase.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration had not been notified of the commencement of this operation, therefore it had not been inspected prior to the accident. The mine had been operated for about five years. A regular inspection was conducted in conjunction with this investigation.
On the day of the accident, Candi Reeve (victim), arrived at the company office in Hurricane at 7:00 a.m., where she met Todd Stratton, foreman, and Ron Jessop, roving utility man. Stratton accompanied Reeve to the Rattlesnake Pit where he reinstructed her in operating the front-end loader and the wash plant. Stratton observed Reeve's operation of the plant and loader. He was satisfied with her performance, and left her alone to operate the plant at about 8:30 a.m.
Reeve failed to return to the company office at the end of the work day. Clayton Stratton, president, became concerned and asked Jessop to drive to the mine to check on Reeve. At about 4:00 p.m., Jessop arrived at the pit where he found Reeve caught in the tail pulley of the plant conveyor. After checking the victim and finding no vital signs, Jessop drove to Todd Stratton's home nearby to notify him. Jessop then phoned Clayton Stratton, who was on his way to the pit, and the local fire and rescue squad. Emergency personnel arrived at the scene a few minutes later and transported the victim to the State Medical Examiner's office. Death was attributed to asphyxiation, due to entanglement in the conveyor belt.
MSHA was notified at about 9:15 a.m., on the day after the accident by a telephone call from Jay Bagley, State of Utah OSHA, to Ronald Renowden, mine safety and health specialist. MSHA's accident investigation team traveled to the mine and made a physical inspection of the accident site, interviewed a number of persons, reviewed procedures relative to the job being performed by the victim and inquired about the victim's training. An order was issued pursuant to Section 103(k) of the Mine Act to ensure the safety of miners. The miners did not request, nor have, representation during the investigation.
The mining operation involved removing sand and gravel from a dry stream bed and hauling it to the plant. A front-end loader was used to feed the material onto a grizzly that scalped off the 3-inch and larger size material. The front-end loader then dumped the minus 3-inch material into a bin that fed onto a belt conveyor. To minimize spillage at the bin feeder, steel plates approximately 57 inches long, were mounted just above the belt. The belt extended 41 feet, at a 20 degree angle, to the top of a single-deck shaker screen. Sand passing the screen was washed in the clarifier directly below. A screw conveyor transported the sand from the clarifier and dumped it on the ground. The loader was used to move the sand to the clean sand stockpile.
The conveyor belt was 17 inches wide and was driven by a 5-horsepower motor. The tail pulley measured 9 inches in diameter and was positioned at ground level. No guards were provided for the tail pulley.
The feeder was supported by steel columns measuring 8 inches deep and 4 inches wide. Cross-bracing was provided by 3-inch by 3-inch by 1/4-inch angles. The feeder bin and support structure limited the work area around the belt and tail pulley.
On the east side of the belt and tail pulley, where the accident occurred, clearance between the belt assembly and feeder bin frame was 32 inches. Entry to the area from the west required maneuvering around the tail pulley through an approximate 48-inch space between the tail pulley and the feeder bin frame. Entry to the area from the south required maneuvering through an 18-inch wide opening between the belt and two pieces of channel on the feeder bin frame. Entry to the area from the east required maneuvering through a triangular opening created by the feeder bin cross-bracing. Vertical clearance between the ground and the hopper portion of the feeder bin varied between 36 inches and 63 inches. The variation was due to the sloped side of the feeder bin and sloped material spillage under the feeder bin. (See plan view drawing in Appendix C.)
Ron Jessop indicated that if spillage around the tail pulley was removed prior to startup in the morning, the plant could run all day without the area having to be cleaned again. They also indicated that the belt tension was normally adjusted so that the belt would stop if it would bind on anything. This was to allow the plant operator time to clear the problem without damaging the belt. Abrasion marks were found on the belt matching the belt contact area on the head pulley. The marks on the belt indicated that the head pulley had turned against a stopped belt for some time.
The victim was working alone when she became entangled between the belt and the tail pulley. The Medical Examiner's office concluded that the victim had sustained injury to the left hand, left arm, and the chest under the arm. They also noted that the sleeve of the victim's shirt had been pulled in between the tail pulley and the belt. It did not appear that there was significant spillage at the tail pulley and no other problems with the belt were evident.
The root cause of the accident was management's failure to install guards on the conveyor tail pulley. Assigning the inexperienced victim to work alone in an area where hazardous conditions existed without arranging for scheduled communication contact contributed to the severity of the accident.
Order No. 7966584 was issued on April 24, 2000, under provisions of Section 103(k) of the Mine Act:
A fatal accident occurred at this plant on April 21, 2000, when a plant operator became entangled in an unguarded smooth tail pulley. A verbal 103(k) order was issued on April 22, 2000 at 1:40 p.m., to assure the safety of persons at this plant until MSHA has determined it is safe to resume normal operations in this area. The mine operator will obtain approval from an authorized representative of the Secretary for all actions to recover and/or restore operation of the affected area.This order was terminated on May 3, 2000. Conditions that contributed to the accident have been corrected and normal mining operations can resume.
Citation No. 7966585 was issued on April 22, 2000, under the provisions of Section 104(d)(1) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.14107(a):
A wash plant operator was fatally injured at this mine on April 21, 2000, when she was caught in the unguarded tail pulley for the wash plant feed conveyor. The mine operator stated that the pulley was never guarded. This tail pulley was located at ground level. Failure to provide guards to protect persons from contacting moving machine parts is a serious lack of reasonable care constituting more than ordinary negligence and is an unwarrantable failure to comply with the mandatory safety standard.This citation was terminated on May 3, 2000. A guard was installed on the tail pulley.
Order No. 7966587 was issued on April 22, 2000, under the provisions of Section 104(d)(1) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.18020:
The plant operator was fatally injured at this mine on April 21, 2000, when she was caught in the unguarded wash plant feed conveyor tail pulley. The wash plant operator was assigned, required or allowed to perform work alone where hazardous conditions existed. The conveyor tail pulley was not guarded and additional safety hazards existed which were cited separately. Assigning, allowing or requiring an employee to work alone when hazardous conditions are present is a serious lack of reasonable care constituting more than ordinary negligence and is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory safety standard.Citation No. 7966588 was issued on April 22, 2000, under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 50.10:
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on April 21, 2000. The mine operator did not contact the Mine Safety and Health Administration.This citation was terminated on April 22, 2000. The mine operator is expected to comply with all Part 50 reporting requirements in the future.
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
A. Persons Participating in the Investigation
B. Persons Interviewed
C. Plan View of Where Accident Occurred
D. Accident Investigation Data Forms
Darwin Stratton & Son, Inc.
Clayton Darwin Stratton, presidentWashington County Sheriff's Office
Barbara Stratton, spouse of Clayton Darwin Stratton
Todd Stratton, foreman
Ray Martin, detectiveMine Safety and Health Administration
Perry Lambert, deputy
Dennis D. Harsh, supervisory mine safety and health inspector
Stephen D. Wegner, mine safety and health inspector
Richard Lee Arquette, mine safety and health inspector (electrical)
D. Michael Campbell, civil engineer
Darwin Stratton & Son, Inc.
Clayton Darwin Stratton, presidentWashington County
Todd Stratton, foreman
Ron Jessop, roving utility man
Ray Martin, detective Sheriff's Office
Don Reid, field officer for the Medical Examiner's Office
R. Merlin Spendlove, EMT, Hurricane Fire Department