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Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health

Surface Nonmetal Mine

Fatal Handling Materials Accident
Sierra Rock Products, Incorporated
I.D. No. 2VD


Quartzite Stone Mine
Shears Construction, L.P.
DBA Couch Construction Materials
Lincoln, Lincoln County, Kansas
I.D. No. 14-00699

June 27, 1999


Tyrone Goodspeed
Supervisory Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Chrystal A. Dye
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

F. Terry Marshall
Mechanical Engineer

Originating Office
U.S. Department of Labor
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Rocky Mountain District
P.O. Box 25367, DFC
Denver, CO 80225-0367

Claude N. Narramore
District Manager


Sidney H. Hatler, mine owner, age 64, was fatally injured on June 27, 1999, when a front-end loader tire fell on him. Hatler had recently purchased the loader and was removing the rear wheels to facilitate transporting it to his mine in California. The loader had been driven onto a lowboy trailer and secured in place. Hatler and his son had removed the lug bolts preparatory to chaining the wheel assembly to the bucket of another loader when it fell.

The accident occurred because the wheel assembly was not secured to prevent it from falling prior to removing the lug bolts.

Hatler had a total of 28 years mining experience, all at his operation in California. He had received training in accordance with 30 CFR, Part 48.


The Quartzite Stone mine, where the accident occurred, was a surface limestone quarry, owned and operated by Shears Construction, L.P., DBA Couch Construction Materials. It was located at Lincoln, Lincoln County, Kansas. The principal operating official was Kenneth E. Wood, vice president/general manager. The mine was normally operated one, 12-hour shift a day, five days a week. Total employment was 37 persons.

Sidney Hatler (victim) was the owner/operator of Sierra Rock Products, Inc., a crushed stone operation, located at Jamestown, Tuolumne County, California. He was the principle operating official. Total employment was 13 persons. Hatler had purchased a front-end loader from Couch Construction Materials and he and his son had driven a tractor-trailer truck to the mine site in Kansas to transport the loader back to his operation in California.

Limestone, from the Quartzite Stone mine, was extracted by drilling and blasting a single bench in the pit. Broken material was transported by truck to the processing plant where it was crushed, screened and stockpiled. The primary product was sold for use as highway construction material.

The last regular inspection of this operation was completed on April 21, 1999.


The accident occurred in the parking lot at the mine. Couch Construction routinely parked mobile equipment in the lot at the end of the day. The Hatlers had been given permission to use any of the parked equipment that they needed to load the purchased machine. They used two front-end loaders to remove the wheels from the purchased machine and load them on the trailer. One of the loaders was a Caterpillar 992 and the other was a Caterpillar 988B.

On the day of the accident, Sidney Hatler (victim) and James Hatler, his son, arrived at the mine at about 8:00 a.m. This was a Sunday and the mining operation was idle. The purchased front-end loader had been left in the parking lot for the Hatlers to pick up. The two men drove the loader onto the lowboy trailer and, after cribbing and cross chaining, they began to remove the rear wheels. The right rear wheel was taken off by removing the lug bolts and installing push-bolts into the hub. After the wheel was loosened, it was chained to the bucket of the 992 loader. Next, they removed the lug bolts from the left rear wheel, installed the push-bolts and began to loosen the wheel. They stopped momentarily so that James Hatler could mark the rim and hub. James Hatler moved to the left of the wheel and it suddenly fell, crushing Sidney Hatler.

James Hatler checked his father for a pulse and found none. He left briefly to summon help and then returned to remove the tire from Sidney Hatler. The county coroner pronounced the victim dead a short time later. Death was attributed to crushing injuries.


MSHA was notified at 10:40 a.m. on the day of the accident by a telephone call from Billy R. Houston, sales manager for Couch Construction Materials. An investigation was started the same day. Upon arrival at the mine, MSHA's accident investigation team issued an order under the provisions of Section 103(k) of the Mine Act to ensure the safety of the miners until the affected area of the mine could be returned to normal operation.


The equipment involved in the accident was a 1980, Clark 475B, wheel loader, Serial Number 421J406. It was being prepared to be transported on a drop-deck lowboy tractor-trailer. The bucket and lift-arm assembly had been removed prior to the machine being driven onto the trailer. Rim wheel removal had been initiated in order to reduce the gross vehicle weight of the tractor-trailer and to reduce the width of the load.

The left rear tire/wheel assembly was estimated to have weighed as much as 6,700 pounds. According to shipping data obtained from Goodyear, the tire weighed 4,675 pounds when new. The rim for this size tire was estimated to weigh approximately 2,000 pounds. All four tires were size 41.25/70-39.

The loader had been driven onto the trailer with the front of the machine facing the rear of the trailer. Both of the front tires were contacting the trailer's deck.

The rear frame section of the machine had been cross-chained to the trailer to prevent side-to-side movement relative to the trailer's deck. The front articulated frame section had been chained to the trailer to minimize pivoting of the machine on the cribbing located under the rear articulated frame section.

The rear articulated frame section had been cribbed using wooden planks in between the frame and the trailer's deck. The cribbing was not of sufficient height to allow the rear tires to be off the ground. No blocking was used between the rear differential housing and the trailer's deck. No blocking was used between the stop blocks of the rear frame and the rear differential housing to prevent rear axle oscillation.

The right rear rim wheel had been removed from the machine. It was laying near the bucket and lift arm assembly a short distance from the trailer.

The wheel fit onto the axle hub through the use of a tapered flange approximately 2" deep. There were 47 threaded (7/8"-9 UNC) bolts that were inserted through the wheel, through the planet cover then into threaded holes within the axle hub. Three nuts were welded to the wheel at three locations, almost equally spaced. These nuts were used to help press the wheel off of the flange. Three additional threaded bolts were located underneath these . pusher holes' to retain the planet cover to the axle hub once the rim wheel was removed. The heads of these three additional planet cover bolts also provided the contact surfaces for the three . push bolts'. All but 3 of the 47 threaded bolts that retain the wheel onto the axle hub had been removed from both front wheels.

All of the wheel to axle hub retaining bolts on the left rear rim wheel had been removed. Physical evidence indicated that two of the three pusher holes' had been used to press the wheel away from the axle hub mating surface along the tapered flange. Witness statements indicated that the wheel had been moved about 1/2" before they paused to mark the rim wheel and hub. The left rear rim wheel was not blocked nor was there any rigging in place to prevent, or minimize, movement of the assembly.


The direct cause of the accident was failure to block or otherwise secure the rim wheel during the removal process. Lack of adequate cribbing under the rear differential housing provided a static load on the tire and was a contributing factor.


Sierra Rock Products

Order No. 7925394 was issued on June 27, 1999, under the provisions of Section 103(k) of the Mine Act:
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on June 27, 1999, when a wheel assembly from a Clark Michigan wheel loader fell on the victim. This order is issued to assure the safety of persons at this operation until the mine or affected areas can be returned to normal operations as determined by an authorized representative of the secretary. The mine operator shall obtain approval from an authorized representative for all actions to recover persons, equipment, and/or return affected areas of the mine to normal.
This order was terminated on July 7, 1999. Conditions that contributed to the accident have been corrected and normal mining operations can resume.

Citation No. 7925396 was issued on July 12, 1999, under the provisions of Section 104(d)(1) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.14211(a):
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on June 27, 1999, when a tire/wheel assembly, which was being removed from a front-end loader, fell and crushed a mine owner/contractor, who was removing it. The wheel was being removed to facilitate transporting the loader by truck out of state. The wheel was not blocked or secured after it had been raised and the lug bolts removed. Failure to block and secure the wheel after the lug bolts were removed is a serious lack of reasonable care constituting more than ordinary negligence and is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory safety standard.
This citation was terminated on July 23, 1999. The mine operator/contractor has initiated safe procedures for wheel removal and employees have been instructed in these procedures.

Couch Construction Materials

Citation No. 7925397 was issued on July 12, 1999, under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.14211(a):
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on June 27, 1999, when a tire/wheel assembly, which was being removed from a front-end loader, fell and crushed a contractor employee who was removing it. The wheel was being removed to facilitate transporting the loader by truck. The wheel was not blocked or secured after it had been raised and the lug bolts removed.
The citation was terminated July 12, 1999. The mine operator will oversee contractor work at the mine site to assure compliance with MSHA regulations.

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon FAB99M20


Persons participating in the investigation:

Couch Construction Materials
Kenneth E. Wood, vice president/general manager
Carl H. Kizman, plant manager
Billy G. Houston, sales manager
Bernard A. Moss, mechanic

Lincoln County Sheriff's Office
Christopher D. Bell, deputy

Mine Safety & Health Administration
Tyrone Goodspeed, supervisory mine safety & health inspector
Chrystal A. Dye, mine safety & health inspector
F. Terry Marshall, mechanical engineer


Persons Interviewed

Sierra Rock Products
James D. Hatler, foreman