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MSHA - Fatal Investigation Report


Southeastern District
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health

Accident Investigation Report
Underground Nonmetal Mine

Fatal Powered Haulage Accident

Anderson Mine
Franklin Industrial Minerals Company
Sherwood, Franklin County, Tennessee
I.D. No. 40-00022

December 23, 1998


Don B. Craig
Supervisory Mine Inspector

John A. Frantz
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Dennis L. Ferlich
Mechanical Engineer

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

Martin Rosta
District Manager

Robert M. Friend
District Manager


Brandon Wade Privette, utility person, age 21, was fatally injured at about 9:15 a.m. on December 23, 1998, when he was crushed between a rail car and a front-end loader bucket. Privette had 17 weeks and 2 days mining experience, all as a utility person at this operation. He had received training in accordance with 30 CFR, Part 48.

MSHA was notified at 10:20 a.m. on the day of the accident by a telephone call from the safety director for the mining company. Due to inclement weather, an investigation was started on December 28, 1998.

The Anderson Mine, an underground crushed stone operation, owned and operated by Franklin Industrial Minerals Company, was located about six miles south of Sherwood, Franklin County, Tennessee. The principal operating official was Kurt Kiser, plant manager. The mine was normally operated two, ten-hour shifts a day, 5-1/2 days a week. A total of 46 persons was employed.

The operation consisted of an underground mine with a surface mill. The mine was opened to the surface by adits which also served as main haulage roads. Rooms and pillars in the mine were developed by conventional drilling and blasting. Broken limestone was loaded into trucks by front-end loaders and transported to the surface where it was crushed, sized, and stored in silos. The finished product was shipped by rail and truck to various customers, primarily for use in carpet manufacturing.

The last regular inspection of this operation was completed on November 19, 1998. Another inspection was conducted at the conclusion of this investigation.


The accident occurred on the surface near the scales at the rail car load-out area. Three parallel sets of tracks served the load-out area. The first and second sets were joined by a switch near the scale. The scale and silos were adjacent to the second set of tracks. Empty cars were parked on the first track and towed to the silos, two at a time, by a front-end loader so both cars could be filled simultaneously. Loaded cars were towed over the scales, down the second track, then switched to the third track where they were parked.

The second track, where the accident occurred, sloped at a maximum of 1.56%. The first 24 feet of track dropped 3/4-inch per each 4 feet. The next 100 feet dropped 1/2-inch per each 4 feet. The track width was 60 inches. The distance between the first and second track varied but was 10-feet, 9-inches at the location of the accident. Cars were parked on the third track, approximately 100 feet from the scale.

The rail car involved in the accident was a series 221 CSX hopper car with three compartments, each with a top hatch for bulk loading. It measured 50-feet, 9-inches long, and 10-feet, 8-inches wide and weighed 254,100 pounds when loaded. The rail car was loaded at the time of the accident and was on the second track.

Tests were conducted under simulated conditions with a loaded rail car of the same type to determine the average speed of the car as it rolled leaving the scales. The test car traveled at a speed of 100 feet in 22.4 seconds or approximately 3.04 mph.

The front-end loader involved in the accident was a Michigan model L160 wheel loader with an enclosed cab. The tire tread was a no-lug design. The loader weighed 52,440 pounds.

The bucket measured 57-inches high by 10-feet, 3-inches wide. Eyelets had been welded near each end of the bucket for the purpose of attaching a cable to pull rail cars on the tracks.

Two, 8-foot by 1-inch choker cables were used to tow the rail car at the time of the accident. The cables were double-ended and connected with cable clevises. The first cable was attached to the eyelets on the loader bucket with pinned clevises. A second cable was attached to the first cable by a swivel clevis so it could slide from one end of the bucket to the other in order to tow from either side of the rail car. The other end of the cable had an open hook attached with a clevis. The hook was connected to a ring located on the side of the rail car.

About six weeks prior to the accident, CSX Railroad representatives met with mine management to inform them that CSX's rail cars were being damaged by the practice of pushing and stopping the rail cars with the front-end-loader bucket. Mine management then instructed their employees to use the tow cable to move the rail cars.

Weather on the day of the accident was cold and wet with rain mixed with sleet. Ground conditions were muddy.


On the day of the accident, Brandon Privette (victim) and Gary Garner, load-out operator, reported for work at 5:00 a.m., their normal starting time. They went to the silos to load rail cars. Several loaded cars had been left from the previous shift, so they moved those cars down the second track. Privette operated the front-end loader while Garner rigged the tow cable and worked the brakes on the rail cars. After moving the loaded cars, they began moving empty cars onto the second track, filling, weighing, and then towing them down the track. At about 7:15 a.m., Thomas Guess arrived and relieved Privette on the loader. Privette assisted him on the ground. Shortly after Guess arrived, Garner left to work elsewhere.

Work proceeded without incident until about 9:00 a.m. when Privette and Guess moved two loaded cars to the scale. The first car was weighed and towed past the scale. When the second car was weighed, it was determined that more product was needed to make the proper weight. Because the loader could get little traction with the no-lug tires and muddy ground, Guess was unable to move both cars back to the silos. The cars were then separated and Privette attached the tow cable to the first car to move it down the track to join the other loaded cars. Guess backed the loader, towing the car.

When the car began to roll freely, the tow cable became slack and Privette stepped between the slowly moving loader and rail car to unhook the cable. The car continued to roll approximately 100 feet while Guess tried to maintain enough slack for Privette to unhook the cable. When Guess realized he was about to back into the loaded rail cars parked on the third track, he stopped the loader. The rail car continued to roll past the loader. When the slack in the cable was taken up abruptly, the side of the loader bucket was jerked against the rail car, crushing Privette.

Guess summoned help and mine personnel administered CPR unsuccessfully. Emergency medical technicians transported Privette to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. The immediate cause of death was respiratory arrest caused by major chest crushing injury.


The accident was caused by moving the rail cars with equipment not designed to be used for this purpose.


Order No. 7771318 was issued on December 24, 1998, under the provision of Section 103(k):

A fatal accident occurred at this operation on December 23, 1998, when a miner was crushed between a loaded rail car and a front-end loader. This order is issued to assure the safety of persons at this operation and prohibits any rail movement in the load-out railroad siding area until MISHA insures the safety of all persons as determined by an Authorized Representative of the Secretary of Labor. The operator shall obtain approval from an authorized representative for all actions to recover and/or restore operations in the affected area.

This order was terminated on December 28, 1998. Conditions that contributed to the accident have been corrected and normal mining operations can resume.

Citation No. 4875742 was issued on January 26, 1999, under the provisions of Section 104(d)(1) of the Mine Act for violation of Standard 57.14205:

A fatal accident occurred at this mine on December 23, 1998, when a miner working in the rail car load-out area was crushed between a front-end loader (FEL) and a loaded rail car. The miner was killed when he stepped between the FEL and the rail car to detach a tow cable and hook assembly which was attached to the FEL and hooked to the rail car. The FEL had been modified by the attachment of this tow cable and hook assembly to be used to control the movement of loaded rail cars along the load-out track. This modification and use was beyond the design capacity intended by the manufacturer demonstrating a lack of reasonable care which constitutes more than ordinary negligence and is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory safety standard.

This citation will be terminated when the mine operator has installed a mechanical coupling designed by the manufacturer for moving rail cars without placing a person at risk.

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon FAB98M50