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Northeast District

Surface Nonmetal Mine
(Crushed Stone)

Fatal Powered Haulage Accident

Bardon-Trimount Inc.
Swampscott Quarry
I.D. No. 19-00020
Swampscott, Essex County, Massachusetts

July 25, 1997


Randall L. Gadway
Supervisory Mine Safety and Health Inspector
William C. Jensen
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Northeastern District Office
230 Executive Drive, Suite 2
Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania 16066-6415

James R. Petrie
District Manager


Daniel F. English, Jr., haul truck operator, age 54, was fatally injured on July 25, 1997, at approximately 2:30 p.m., when the Caterpillar 773B 50-ton haul truck he was driving climbed over a berm and fell 40 feet to the quarry floor. English had a total of 28 years experience as a truck driver. He had operated a haul truck at the Swampscott Quarry for approximately a month preceding the accident, which comprised his only know mining experience. English had not received training in accordance with 30 CFR, Part 48, but had received 8-hours of task training on the Caterpillar 773B and 769 haul trucks.

Martin McKenney, quarry superintendent, notified MSHA of the accident on July 25, 1997, at approximately 2:40 p.m. An inspector arrived on-site the same day to secure the scene and an accident investigation was started the following day.

The Swampscott Quarry, was a multiple bench, crushed stone operation with an associated mill, owned and operated by Bardon-Trimount Inc., and located near the town of Swampscott, Essex County, Massachusetts. Principal operating officials were Martin McKenney and Jack Freeman, quarry superintendents. The mine normally operated three, 8-hour shifts a day (two production and one maintenance shift), 5 days a week, and employed a total of 43 persons.

Traprock was drilled, blasted, and loaded into haul trucks by front-end loaders. It was then transported from the quarry to the primary crushing plant where it was crushed, sized, and stockpiled. The finished product was sold primarily for road base and construction aggregate.

The last regular inspection was conducted on December 6, 1996. Another regular inspection was conducted at the conclusion of this accident investigation.


The 50-ton haul truck involved in the accident was a 1988, Caterpillar 773B, serial number 63W0220, and company number 31056. Its maximum gross weight was 204,000 pounds at full load capacity, with an empty weight of 86,869 pounds. Its maximum speed was 38 miles-per-hour (mph) at full load capacity. The haul truck was powered by a V-12, Caterpillar 3412 diesel engine. The height of its axle from the ground was measured at 40 inches. The truck was 29 feet, 11 inches long, and 13 feet, 3.5 inches wide. Its roll-over protective structure met Society of Automotive Engineering (SAE) criteria.

The truck's service brakes were air-over-hydraulic, self-adjusting, four-wheel disc type. The front brakes were of rotor and caliper design, while the rear brakes were internal oil cooled. The brakes could be switched from rear-wheel braking to all-wheel braking via a control lever located in the operator's compartment. The control lever was found in the all-wheel braking position. The truck was also equipped with park brakes, a retarder system, and a secondary (emergency) braking system which applied on the rear brakes only.

Post-accident tests were performed on the truck's brakes, steering, and transmission by a certified Caterpillar technician under observation by MSHA investigators. The service brakes were individually pressure tested and no defects were found. The park brake system had not been activated during the accident and the lever was found in the open position. Both the secondary brake system and the retarder system were in working condition with no evidence indicating that they had been applied during the accident.

The transmission functioned properly and was found in second gear which would enable the truck to reach a speed of 6 or 7 mph going down the ramp. The auxiliary steering was also functioning properly and no defects were found in the steering assembly unit. No safety defects were found during the inspection of the haul truck by either the Caterpillar technician or MSHA investigators.

The main haulage ramp from the primary crusher to the stockpile was 1,167 feet long, with grades between 2 and 9 percent. The grade at the accident site was 9 percent. The ramp width averaged between 36 and 50 feet. The ramp width at the accident site was 36 feet. Signs were posted at both ends of the narrow roadway section stating: "ROADWAY NARROWS, GIVE QUARRY HAULTRUCKS RIGHT OF WAY."

Concrete blocks were used as a berm along the narrow section of roadway where the accident occurred. These blocks measured 48 inches long, 34 inches wide, and 30 inches high. Each block weighed approximately 4000 pounds. The berm consisted of 50 of these concrete blocks placed end-to-end along the narrow section of the ramp. A 1-inch diameter cable was snaked through anchors installed in the blocks, and was clamped to the anchors at every other block. The ends of each block were also anchored to the ground.

The truck was equipped with seat belts that met SAE criteria. The truck driver, however, was not wearing the seat belt at the time of the accident, and it was found tucked behind the seat. The company had a policy which required the use of seat belts while operating mobile equipment.


Daniel F. English Jr., haul truck operator, reported for work at 1:30 p.m. on July 25, 1997. He was instructed by McKenney to operate the Caterpillar 773B haul truck, and to haul rock from the quarry to the primary crusher. After conducting a pre-operational inspection of the truck, English drove it to the 4th level of the quarry where it was loaded by the front-end loader operator. He had made at least two trips to the crusher and was returning to the quarry for another load, when he pulled onto the main haulage ramp descending to the quarry.

At approximately the same time, a commercial truck driver was approaching the bottom of the ramp. He saw English coming down the ramp, stopped his truck before pulling onto it, and waved English to proceed down. When English reached the narrow portion of the ramp, his right front tire contacted the concrete block berm. Due to the height and squared off design of the berm, it caught the leading edge of the tire, causing the tire to climb over the berm. English could not regain control and the right rear tires, followed by the left rear tires, also climbed over the berm. The truck traveled approximately two truck lengths along the top of the berm before the left front wheel assembly broke off allowing the truck to fall over the highwall, forty feet to the quarry floor. Witnesses observed the truck on top of the berm and saw English struggling to regain control of it.

Company personnel and commercial haulers at the site rushed to the accident scene to offer assistance. The truck was found lying on its right side. English had not been wearing his seat belt and had been thrown into the windshield and then through the right door's window. He was found lying on the ground outside the truck's operator compartment and had sustained major neck and head injuries. Personnel at the scene checked for vital signs but found none. They moved English away from the truck because they were concerned that it might shift. An emergency medical unit arrived a short time latter. English was pronounced dead at the scene by the local medical examiner. The death certificate listed the immediate cause of death as multiple injuries due to blunt trauma.


The primary cause of the accident was the inadequate construction of the berm. Contributing factors were the truck contacting the berm and the failure of the driver to wear the seat belt provided. No defects were found on the truck which could have caused a loss of control and it could not be determined what had caused the driver to run in to the berm.


Order No. 4568973
Issued on July 25, 1997, 2:40 p.m., under the provisions of Section 103 (k) of the Mine Act:

A 50-ton Cat 773B haul truck, company No. 31056, overturned while descending into the quarry resulting in a fatal accident. This order prohibits personnel from entering the accident site pending an investigation by MSHA to determine if hazards exist that could endanger other personnel.

This order was terminated on completion of the onsite investigation on July 29, 1997, and after the height of the berm was increased to the mid-axel height of the largest piece of equipment utilizing the main haulage ramp.

Citation No. 7707458
Issued under the provision of Section 104 (a), for violations of 30 CFR 56.9300 (b):

A fatal accident occurred on July 25, 1997, when a quarry haul truck traveled up and over a berm and fell 40 feet onto the quarry floor. The height of the berm (30") was inadequate and was less than the mid-axle height (40") of the truck.

This citation was terminated on July 30, 1997, after the company installed a 52" high berm along the main haulage ramp.

Citation No. 7707459
Issued under the provision of Section 104 (a), for violations of 30 CFR 56.14131 (a):

A fatal accident occurred on July 25, 1997, when a quarry haul truck traveled up and over a berm and fell 40 feet onto the quarry floor. The seat belt was found tucked behind the seat in the operator's compartment.

This citation was terminated on July 30, 1997, after the company instructed all personnel to wear seatbelts while operating mobile equipment.

//s// Randall L. Gadway
Supervisory Mine Safety and Health Inspector

//s// William C. Jensen
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Approved by: James R. Petrie, District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB97M41]