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Southeastern District
Metal and Nonmetal Mine safety and Health

Accident Investigation Report
Surface Nonmetal Mine

Fatal Handtools Accident

Mine I.D. No. 09-00472-6UP
Builder's Transport
Engelhard Corporation
Toddville Plant
McIntyre, Wilkinson County, Georgia

August 6, 1997


Clyde R. McMillian
Supervisory Mine Safety and Health Inspector


John D. Reed
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Originating Office
Mine Safety and Health Administration
135 Gemini Circle, Suite 212
Birmingham, Alabama 35209

Martin Rosta
District Manager


Wilson McDaniel, truck driver, age 45, was injured at approximately 2:00 p.m. and died of his injuries at 6:30 p.m. on August 6, 1997. Several sections of polyethylene pipe fell from a flatbed trailer and crushed him. The victim had 1 year, and two months truck driving experience, all with Builder's Transport. McDaniel had not received training in accordance with 30 CFR, Part 48. Engelhard Corporation employees and Piping Services, Inc. employees had received training in accordance with 30 CFR, Part 48.

Frank Gibbs, Safety Supervisor of Engelhard Corporation, notified MSHA's Macon field office of the accident at 5:30 p.m. on August 6, 1997. An investigation was started the same day.

The Toddville Plant, a kaolin milling operation, owned and operated by Engelhard Corporation, was located about 3 miles west of McIntyre, Wilkinson County, Georgia. The principal operating official was William Cobb, vice president. The plant was normally operated three 8-hour shifts per day, seven days per week by a total of 165 persons.

Kaolin was extracted by backhoe then hauled to the mill where it was passed through a slicer, blungers, and sand boxes. The material was then transported, in slurry form, through pipe lines to the processing plant where it was leached, dewatered, spray dried, pulverized, and calcined. The finished product, used in various manufactured products, was shipped in bags, bulk, and slurry by railroad and truck to locations nationwide.

Phillips Driscopipe, a division of Phillips Petroleum Company, manufactured the pipe and shipped it according to purchasers' instructions.

Builder's Transport was contracted by Phillips Drisocpipe to deliver the pipe from the manufacturer to the mine site.

Reynolds Piping Service, Incorporated was contracted by Engelhard Corporation to perform general maintenance work and had been assigned to unload the pipe at the Toddville Plant when delivered by Builder's Transport. The contractor provided its own equipment, employees, and supervision.

The last regular inspection of this operation was conducted on March 26-27, 1997.


The truck involved in the accident was a 1993 International with a flat-bed trailer, manufactured in 1996 by Wabash National of Lafayette, Indiana. The trailer was 48 feet long, 7 feet, 7 inches wide, equipped with four axles, with four wheels per axle, and measured 58 inches above the ground. There were five sets of woven nylon straps that pulled from one side of the trailer and attached to the other side to secure loads while in transit.

The pipe was made of high-density polyethylene. Each pipe weighed 1200 pounds, had an 18-inch outer diameter, a minimum wall thickness of about 1 inch, was 50 feet long, and had a pressure rating of 100 pounds per square inch.

Prior to the week the accident occurred, the pipe had been strip loaded onto trailer beds with each row of pipes placed on boards and wooden wedges installed at the ends of each row of the board strips to hold the row of pipes in place. This process enabled the trailer to hold 20 pipes. The space below each row of pipes facilitated the installation and rigging of slings under and around the pipes for unloading by cranes or hoists.

The shipping method was changed when Phillips Driscopipe received orders from Engelhard Corporation stating that the pipe should be shipped the best way. Pipes shipped during the week of the accident had been loose-loaded. Flatbed trailers were fitted with iron or steel stakes crimped on one end so they could be inserted into standard trailer stake pockets located on the sides of the trailer. There were usually 4 stakes installed on each side of the trailer with the two end stakes located approximately three feet from the end of the trailer. The pipes were then loaded onto the trailer in layers with the second and subsequent rows of pipes cradled by the pipes beneath them. After two rows of pipe had been loaded, a rope was tied between each of the four opposing set of stakes. The loading sequence would have been five pipes on the bottom, then four pipes, then four ropes tied across each set of stakes. This process would be repeated twice more until 27 pipes had been loaded. The rope used to hold the pipes was �-inch nylon. Five nylon straps attached to the truck bed would hold the load in place in during transit.

The factory attached a sticker to one of the pipes on each shipment of loose-loaded pipes which recommended that the pipes be unloaded by cutting the top layer of ropes and using a forklift to unload the pipe sections. When the pipe was unloaded down to the next layer of ropes then those ropes were to be cut and the procedure repeated until all the pipe was unloaded.

The first shipment of loose-loaded pipes arrived two days prior to the accident. Reynolds Piping Service, Incorporated's employees were unfamiliar with the loose-loading method. They were unable to follow the factory's recommended unloading procedures because they could not use a forklift to unload the 50-foot pipes. So they unloaded the pipe by partially bracing the side of the pipe with the arm of a backhoe, and then cutting the ropes, one by one, until the weight of the pipes tore the metal stakes from the sides of the trailer and the pipes fell uncontrollably to the ground.

The backhoe was a Link Belt track-mounted excavator.

A pocket knife involved in the accident had a three and one-half inch blade and had been taped to a one by two inch stick that was six feet, five inches long. It had been used to cut the ropes before the accident occurred.


On the day of the accident, Wilson McDaniel (victim) arrived at the Toddville Plant at approximately 8:00 a.m. with a trailer load of loose-loaded Driscopipe. He and another driver with the same type of load waited at the shop for further instructions. About 12:15 p.m., Gene Harrison, a welder for Reynolds Piping Service, Incorporated arrived and asked the drivers to follow him to the area where the pipe was to be unloaded. After arrival, Harrison told the truck drivers that the two other employees of Reynolds Piping Service were bringing a backhoe on a flatbed trailer and would be arriving soon. While he was waiting, McDaniel removed the woven nylon straps that secured the pipe on his trailer. He also untied the four bottom sets of ropes on the driver's side of the load of pipe.

At about 1:15 p.m. the crew with the backhoe had arrived. Rick Darsey, foreman, and Vernon Sanders, helper, both employed by Reynolds Piping Service, Incorporated, unloaded the backhoe, and then approached the truck drivers. Darsey told both truck drivers to tell their dispatchers not to send any more trucks loaded without packing material.

Darsey told the truck drivers that the trucks would have to be unloaded by cutting all the ropes and letting the pipe fall to the ground. He stated that his employees would assist but that the truck drivers were responsible for cutting the ropes and would have to cut the final ropes.

McDaniel watched as the other truck was being unloaded. The backhoe was placed in the middle of the trailer on the passenger's side of the truck. The backhoe arm was placed across the top of the pipe and down to the bottom row. The ropes were then cut from the driver's side of the trailer, one at a time, until the final rope was cut by the truck driver. The metal stakes tore loose from their aluminum stake pockets and some pipe came off the truck on the passenger side hitting the backhoe and breaking one of its mirrors. The backhoe arm was then moved and the remainder of the pipe rolled onto the ground. The trailer had been damaged when the stakes were pushed away by the weight of the pipe, causing the trailer pockets to separate from the bed of the trailer. The truck driver drove the truck and trailer away, leaving the property.

After McDaniel saw the damage to the other truck, he told Darsey that Reynolds Piping Service, Incorporated would be responsible for any damage to his flatbed trailer. McDaniel and Darsey got into a discussion and Darsey phoned Jerry Reynolds, manager of Reynolds Piping Service, Incorporated, and told him that he was having trouble with a truck driver that did not want to unload the pipe until it was decided who would be responsible for the damage to the trailer. Reynolds contacted Frank Eady, Engelhard Project Engineer and then phoned Darsey and told him that they were on their way to the site.

Before Reynolds and Eady arrived, McDaniel told Darsey that he didn't have time to wait; he had been waiting since 8:00 a.m. while Reynolds Piping Service employees had been doing other work and he was ready to unload the pipe so he could leave.

At about 2:00 p.m., McDaniel, Darsey, Harrison and Sanders began to unload the pipe. The backhoe was placed in the middle of the trailer on the passenger's side of the truck with the arm against the pipe to prevent the pipe from rolling off and striking the backhoe. They took turns cutting the top ropes, one at a time from the driver's side of the trailer. Because McDaniel had untied the bottom row of ropes earlier, the only ropes remaining were four ropes in the middle of the load. Darsey cut the ropes on the front and back stakes. The load shifted toward the passenger side of the trailer and Darsey removed the front and back stakes so that the damage to the trailer would be less. He then told McDaniel that his employees would not cut any more ropes. Darsey instructed Harrison to attach his pocket knife to a stick with duct tape for McDaniel to use.

As McDaniel took the knife and approached the trailer ropes, Darsey cautioned him to be careful. McDaniel cut one of the ropes and the load of pipe began to fall toward him. As he turned to flee, one of the stakes struck him in the back of the head, causing him to fall. One pipe rolled over McDaniel's upper body and two pipes rolled onto his legs.

The employees immediately radioed for help then moved McDaniel's truck to give them room to remove the pipes from McDaniel's legs. The backhoe was used to move one section of pipe, and the employees moved the other section of pipe off McDaniel.

The county ambulance arrived in about five minutes. McDaniel was taken to Medical Center of Central Georgia, where he was pronounced dead of massive traumatic injuries and internal bleeding.


The accident was caused by unloading the pipe in a manner that exposed persons to the hazards of falling material.


Engelhard Corporation

Order No. 7786206
Issued August 6, 1997, under the provisions of Section 103(k) of the Mine Act:

A delivery truck driver was fatally injured while unloading a load of 18" by 50' PVC pipe from a flatbed trailer. This order is to protect the safety of others by requiring all persons be excluded from the area. The accident site shall not be altered or disturbed until MSHA has completed its investigation and this order has been modified or terminated by the investigation team.

This Order was terminated on August 7, 1997 after the onsite investigation of the accident had been completed and the operator had suspended delivery of pipe loads of the type involved in the accident.

Builders Transport

Citation No. 7755060
Issued August 11, 1997, under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for a violation of 30 CFR 56.9201.

On August 6, 1997, a delivery truck driver was fatally injured when several sections of 18 inch diameter by 50 foot long, polyethylene pipe fell from a flatbed trailer and crushed him. The pipe was being unloaded from the trailer in such a manner that required the driver to place himself in an unsafe position when cutting the ropes that were supporting the load. When he cut one of the ropes, the pipe sections fell on him.

This citation was terminated on August 13, 1997, after the company formulated a policy that prohibits drivers from assisting in unloading trailers in this manner, and the company suspended transportation of this type of loose pipe loads.
Reynolds Piping Service, Incorporated

Citation No. 7755061
Issued August 11, 1997, under the provisions of Section 104(d)(1) of the Mine Act for a violation of 30 CFR 56.9201.

On August 6, 1997, a delivery truck driver was fatally injured when several sections of 18 inch diameter by 50 foot long polyethylene pipe fell from a flatbed trailer and crushed him. The contractor crew unloading the pipe from the trailer was using a method that exposed workers to the hazard of falling pipe. The method consisted of cutting the ropes securing the load and allowing the pipe to fall uncontrolled from the trailer. Prior to the fatal accident three other loads of pipe had been unloaded in a similar manner. A foreman was present and was overseeing the unloading procedures. This is an unwarrantable failure.

This citation was terminated on August 13, 1997 after the requirements of 30 CFR 56.9201 were explained to the contractor and the company suspended receiving pipe loads of this type.

/s/ Clyde R. McMillian
Supervisory Mine Inspector

/s/ John D. Reed
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Approved by: Martin Rosta, District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB97M42]