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Surface Metal/Nonmetal Mine

Fatal Slip or Fall of Person Accident

Curry Ice & Coal, Incorporated


Selma Plant, Quarry & Mill
River Cement Company
Festus, Jefferson County, Missouri
I.D. No. 23-00188

Date of Injury: August 7, 1996
Date of Death: August 8, 1996


Russell E. Smith, Supervisory Mine Safety & Health Inspector
W. Dewayne Thompson, Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Originating Office
Mine Safety & Health Administration
1100 Commerce Street, Room 4C50
Dallas, Texas 75242-0499

Doyle D. Fink
District Manager


James Adam Van Huss, truck driver, age 55, was fatally injured at about 4:10 a.m. on August 7, 1996, when he fell from the top of a tractor-trailer rig. He died the following day. Van Huss had a total of 35 years truck driving experience, 30 years with Curry Ice & Coal, 18 years hauling cement from this operation. He had not received training in accordance with 30 CFR Part 48.

Martin McClelland, River Cement Company environmental and safety manager notified MSHA at 9:40 a.m. on the day of the accident. An investigation was started the same day.

Curry Ice & Coal, Incorporated, headquartered in Carlinville, Illinois, was a commercial trucking company. Curry purchased bulk cement from various producers, including the Selma Plant, and delivered the product to concrete ready-mix plants throughout central Illinois. The senior corporate official was James Ray Curry, president. The company employed a total of 250 persons; 15 employees worked at the Carlinville facility.

The Selma Plant, Quarry and Mill, owned and operated by River Cement Company, was located near Festus, Jefferson County, Missouri. The senior operating official was Bruce R. Keim, vice president, manufacturing. The plant was normally operated three, 8-hour shifts a day, seven days a week. A total of 170 persons was employed.

Limestone was mined from an adjacent quarry and manufactured into Portland cement. The finished product was shipped to customers by rail and truck.

The last regular inspection of this operation was completed on February 1, 1996. Another inspection was conducted in conjunction with this investigation.


The accident occurred on mine property, just outside the front gate. Normally, when truck drivers arrived at the plant, they were logged-in at the gate and would drive to the loadout area. A safety belt with lanyard was provided by the cement company at the loadout area for climbing onto the tankers. An overhead wire rope had been installed for attaching the lanyard, prior to opening the hatch covers. After the truck was loaded, the drivers would again climb onto the tanker, clip the lanyard to the cable and close the hatch covers. Curry Ice & Coal did not provide safety belts with lanyards or other means of fall protection for their truck drivers.

A 27 feet wide two-lane concrete roadway was owned and maintained by the mining company. The two mile long roadway provided access from the main public road to cement plant. A guard shack was located at the side of the roadway at the front gate. Three light fixtures provided adequate overhead lighting at the gate entrance.

At the time of the accident, Van Huss was wearing jogging-type shoes with good tread on the soles, and a pair of cotton gloves with some grease on them. A grease gun refill tube with one end open was found on the roadway close to where Van Huss fell. A glob of grease was found on the top left rail of the ladder and fresh grease was on the latch hinges at the center hatch cover.

The truck involved in the accident was a 1977 Peterbilt. The bulk tank trailer was manufactured by Heil Trailer International. Reportedly, Van Huss had difficulty in opening and closing the center hatch cover latches. A fixed ladder, extending 7 inches above the tank top, was installed on the left side of the trailer, just forward of the rear tires for access to three evenly spaced loading hatches. A walkway, which was clean, dry and coated with non-skid material, extended the full length of the tanker. Two pipe rails, 3/4-inches in diameter, were mounted 44 inches apart and stood 3� inches above the tanker on each side of the walkway. The top of the tanker was approximately 12 feet above ground level.


On the day of the accident, James Van Huss, (victim) reported to the Carlinville facility for work at 1:45 a.m., his usual starting time. He drove the Peterbilt truck from Carlinville to the cement plant. Routinely, Van Huss would arrive before the shipping department opened at 4:00 a.m., park his truck at the front gate and go into the guard shack to talk.

Van Huss arrived at the gate at 3:41 a.m. and was logged-in by Anthony Aubuchon, security guard. He could not allow him beyond the gate until the shipping department opened. Aubuchon stated that Van Huss got out of his truck, reached behind the seat for something and began to inspect the truck. A short time later, Aubuchon saw Van Huss on top of the tanker opening the center hatch cover.

After the gate was opened, Van Huss did not drive in to load and when Aubuchon looked toward the truck he could not see him. He thought that Van Huss had gone to the bathroom or was on the opposite side of the truck. Eventually, Aubuchon became more curious and went to investigate. He found Van Huss lying alongside the trailer. It was apparent that Van Huss was seriously injured.

Aubuchon immediately radioed the plant control room operator who called the local 911 emergency assistance number. Dean Linderer, shift foreman, along with Les Lalumondier and Tim Hughes, utility men, quickly made their way to the front gate. They found Van Huss unconscious, lying on his back with his head below the ladder and his feet extending away from the trailer. They administered first aid. An ambulance service arrived a short time later and transported Van Huss to a local hospital. From there he was flown to a hospital in St. Louis where he died the following day.


The cause of accident was failure to use the available fall protection equipment at the load-out facility.


Citation No. 4118112
Issued to Curry Ice & Coal, Inc. on August 19, 1996 under the provisions of section 104(d)(1) for violation of standard 56.15005.

A truck driver was fatally injured on August 7, 1996, when he fell from the top of the tanker. The driver had parked the truck at the Selma Plant front gate entrance, was lubricating the hatch hinges, and while servicing the trailer, fell about 12 feet to the concrete roadway. A safety belt and line were available at the load-out facility, but were not used. The trucking company knew truck drivers were climbing up on their tankers to open and close the hatches without using fall protection equipment. This is an unwarrantable failure.

The citation was terminated on October 16, 1996, when all of the Curry Ice & Coal truck drivers had been notified that they will use the safety belts and lines provided at the truck bulk loading area.

/s/ Russell E. Smith
Supervisory Mine Inspector

/s/ W. Dewayne Thompson
Mine Inspector

Approved by: Doyle D. Fink, District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB96M33]