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Western District
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health

Accident Investigation Report
Surface Sand and Gravel Mine

Fatal Handling Materials Accident

Irwindale Plant
Mine ID NO. 04-01763
United Rock Products Corporation
Irwindale, Los Angeles County, California

March 20, 1996


Michael J. Drussel
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Gary L. Cook
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Western District Office
Mine Safety and Health Admiistration
3333 Vaca Valley Parkway, Suite 600
Vacaville, CA 95688

Fred M. Hansen
District Manager


Johan Barsdorf, mechanic, age 41, was fatally injured at about 10:00 a.m., on March 20, 1996, when he was pinned against a storage trailer by a large spreader bar he was preparing to move. Barsdorf had a total of eight months mining experience, all with this company. He had not received training in accordance with 30 CFR, Part 48.

MSHA was notified at 10:45 a.m., the day of the accident, by a telephone call from William Cameron, safety director. An investigation was started the same day.

The Irwindale Plant, an open pit sand and gravel operation, owned and operated by United Rock Products Corporation, was located at Irwindale, Los Angeles County, California. Principle operating officials were Arnold Brink, operations manager, and Earl Wise, plant superintendent. The mine was normally operated two 8-hour shifts a day, six days a week. A total of 33 persons was employed.

Sand and gravel were extracted from multiple benches in the pit. The material was hauled by truck to an adjacent processing plant for crushing, sizing, and screening. The finished product was sold locally for use as construction and asphalt aggregate.

The last regular inspection of this operation, prior to the accident, was completed on February 15, 1996. A regular inspection was conducted May 14 through May 16, 1996.


The spreader bar involved in the accident was constructed on-site of 3/4-inch steel plate and weighed approximately 2180 pounds. It was 16 feet along its base and four feet high. The sides were perpendicular to the base for 16 inches, then angled toward the top section where it narrowed to 12 inches. A 5-inch square hole was cut in the top center for connecting to the crane load line. An 8-inch diameter steel pipe, cut in half lengthwise, was welded along the base to reduce flexing. The spreader bar distributed, or separated, the lift load when suspended from a crane hook. It was used to lift large, heavy equipment such as the bed of a truck. A clevis, or shackle, attached the bar to the crane hook.

The spreader bar was stored in the plant yard, between an enclosed over-the-road- drop trailer and a Conex storage container. The two units were positioned about 55 inches apart. The spreader bar was placed upright, on two wooden blocks, leaning against the semi-trailer.


On the day of the accident, Johan Barsdorf, (victim), reported for work at 6:00 a.m., his regular starting time. He and Daniel Mathews, oiler, met with Melvin Watson, maintenance supervisor, to discuss the day's work assignments. Barsdorf finished his assigned task and then helped Mathews, who was repairing the brakes on a front-end loader. Watson checked on the two men at about 8:00 a.m. and told them to raise and crib the rear of the loader to stabilize the axle before removing the tires. They initially tried to lift the rear of the loader using a hydraulic jack but were unsuccessful. Watson advised them to use the 50-ton crane.

At about 10:00 a.m., Barsdorf went in search of the spreader bar preparatory to using the crane to lift the loader. Watson left the site for a short time and upon his return, at about 10:20 a.m., went to look for Barsdorf. He found him in the yard, pinned between the spreader bar and the Conex storage container. Watson was unable to move the bar. He checked for a pulse and found none. He then notified shop personnel to call 911, and ran to get the crane. In the meantime, coworkers tried unsuccessfully to free Barsdorf. Watson arrived with the crane moments later and the bar was lifted. Local police and ambulance personnel arrived a short time later and Barsdorf was pronounced dead at the scene.


This accident occurred because the spreader bar was stored in an unsafe manner so that it could fall. It had been stored in a near vertical position which subjected persons to it falling on them when installing the clevis and/or when preparing to lift the spreader bar.


Order No. 4143628
Issued on 3/20/96 under the provisions of section 103(k).

This order was issued to insure the safety of persons until affected areas of the mine could be returned to normal operation. This order was terminated on 3/22/96 after it was determined it was safe to resume operations.

Citation No. 7951009
Issued on 3/21/96 under the provisions of section 104(a), violation of standard 56.16001.

A 2180 pound spreader bar, used to lift wide objects with a crane, was stored upright between two storage vans, leaning against one van. This spreader bar was not stored in a safe manner in that it was left standing up on its edge. An employee was fatally injured on 3/20/96 while attempting to install a clevis bolt for a lift connection. The spreader bar fell over pinning the victim against the other van. This citation was terminated after the spreader bar was relocated to a place where it could be stored flat on the ground.

/S/ Michael J. Drussel
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

/S/ Gary L. Cook
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Approved by:

Fred M. Hansen,
District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB96M09]