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Surface Nonmetal Mine
Fatal Machinery Accident

February 13, 2002

FEC Quarry
Rinker Materials of Florida, Incorporated
Miami, Miami-Dade County, Florida
Mine I.D. No. 08-00519

Accident Investigators

Joel B. Richardson
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Steve J. Kirkland
Supervisory Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Gharib Ibrahim
Civil Engineer

Donald T. Kirkwood, Jr.
Supervisory Civil Engineer

Originating Office
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Southeast District
135 Gemini Circle, Suite 212; Birmingham, AL 35209
Martin Rosta, District Manager


Orlando Valdes, electrician, age 53, was fatally injured on February 13, 2002, when he was struck by a hoist that fell from an overhead beam.

The accident occurred because the beam was not equipped with a mechanical safety latch, allowing the hoist to overtravel and continue off the end of the beam.

Valdes had a total of 1 year, 10 months mining experience, all at this operation. He had received training in accordance with 30 CFR Part 46


FEC Quarry and Plant, a crushed limestone operation, owned and operated by Rinker Materials of Florida, Incorporated, was located at 13292 NW 118th Avenue, Miami, Miami-Dade County, Florida. The principal operating official was Johnny R. Arellano, operations manager, south region. The mine normally operated three eight -hour shifts a day, seven days a week. Total employment was 169 persons.

Limestone was mined from below the water table. Rock was drilled, blasted, excavated with draglines and stockpiled in windrows to dry. The rock was hauled by truck to the plant where it was crushed, washed, screened, sized and stockpiled. The finished product was sold as construction aggregate.

The last regular inspection at this operation was completed August 10, 2001. A regular inspection was conducted following the investigation.


On the day of the accident, Orlando Valdes (victim) arrived at the mine at about 6:00 p.m., his normal starting time. He and Luis Alberto Distrubell, leadman electrician, were dispatched to the 7820 Marion dragline to assist with installing a generator that had been put in place earlier in the day. Distrubell entered the generator pit and started connecting and insulating the electrical leads while Valdes stood on the walkway between the two motor bases providing tools and equipment to Distrubell. While this was being done, Clarence Turner and Emilio Garcia, mechanics, were positioning a 10-ton overhead hoist to lift the generator armature to install shims to align the coupling bolt holes and set the proper air gap tolerance for the armature.

The hoist was positioned on the right moveable beam and had to be moved to a center moveable beam in order to complete the lift. Garcia and Turner were in the process of tramming the hoist from the right beam to the stationary crossover beam. Turner instructed Garcia to position the right moveable beam to align with the crossover beam. When they were aligned, the hoist was about midway on the moveable beam and Turner began to tram the hoist. He told Garcia that he would align the center moveable beam with the crossover beam. Turner reportedly pulled the tram chain twice and told Valdes that he needed to pass by him to position the other beam. Before he could pass, the hoist fell from the end of the stationary crossover beam and struck Valdes.

Turner and Garcia lifted the hoist off Valdes. Distrubell and Osnaldo Noa, dragline oiler, attended to Valdez who was breathing and responsive but incoherent. Distrubell then radioed the shop to call for emergency assistance. Emergency medical personnel arrived a short time later and checked Valdez but were unable to find any vital signs. Valdez was pronounced dead at the scene by the county medical examiner. Death was attributed to blunt trauma injuries.


MSHA was notified of the accident at 9:10 p.m. on February 13, 2002, by a telephone call from Alan G. MacVicar, safety manager for Rinker Materials of Florida, Incorporated, to Harry Verdier, assistant district manager. An investigation was started that day. An order was issued under the provisions of Section 103(k) of the Act to ensure the safety of the miners. MSHA's accident investigators traveled to the mine, made a physical inspection of the accident scene, interviewed employees, and reviewed conditions and work procedures relevant to the accident. MSHA conducted the investigation with the assistance of mine management and employees. The miners did not request nor have representation during the investigation.


  • The accident occurred in the motor/generator compartment of the 7820 Marion dragline. The dragline was equipped with twin generator units in the rear of the machine. Shafts to a synchronous motor on one side and swing generator on the other side connected the generators. These units were aligned parallel to the back of the machine and separated by a 24-inch wide service walkway. The victim was in this walkway when the accident occurred.

  • The dragline was equipped with two, overhead mounted, modular hoists that were used for maintenance work. The hoists traveled across the bottom flange of three moveable beams that were 18-inches high with a flange width of 6 inches.

  • Two days before the accident occurred, the rear generator on the dragline failed and was removed and sent to an electrical shop to be repaired. At that time, an attempt was made to position the overhead hoist above the generator to lift it out; however, the power cable became entangled in the hoist wheels, restricting the movement of the hoist. This procedure was abandoned and a 40-ton Grove crane was used to lift the generator out.

  • The hoist involved in the accident was a Harrington model no. ES 3B-735 with a rated lifting capacity of 10 tons. It weighed about 1,160 pounds. The lifting mechanism was electrically powered. The hoist was mounted on four wheels, which rode on the top of the bottom flange of the moveable beams and crossover beams. Two of the hoist wheels were moved mechanically by pulling a chain that hung down from the hoist assembly. The moveable beams were approximately 19.5 feet above the service walkway.

  • When the hoist chain was pulled, it turned the outside pulley, which directly turned one of the hoist wheels that rode on top of the beam flange. This wheel was connected by gears to the adjacent wheel, directly turning that wheel. The hoist would only move as chain was feeding around the pulley. If the chain was pulled, the momentum of the chain would allow the hoist to continue to move a short distance as the chain fed around the pulley. Test pulls on the second hoist, not involved in the accident, showed that after giving the chain a hard pull and letting go, the hoist would move from approximately 2 to 6 additional inches. Reportedly, the upper limit of this movement (free travel), after letting go of the chain was about 12 inches.

  • The three moveable beams were rated at 15 ton and manufactured by Robbins & Myers. The beams were moved with mechanical drives with pull chains. The two outside beams were approximately 13 feet long and the center beam was about 11 feet long.

  • The crossover beams were about 33.5 inches long and allowed the hoist to transfer from one side of the dragline to the other. The right side moveable beam and the rear crossover beam were the beams being used to move the hoist when the accident occurred. These beams were on a 1/8 to 24-inch positive grade, which would have provided resistance against any free movement of the hoist.

  • The three moveable beams and the two front crossover beams were equipped with mechanical safety latches to prevent the hoist from falling off the end. The mechanical safety latches were designed to fall under their own weight when not being held in the upward position. The safety latch on the end of the moveable right beam was found stuck in the up position. The crossover beam at the rear of the dragline was not equipped with safety latches.

  • The grease fittings on the mechanical arm of the safety latches showed no signs of recent use. All the safety latches provided on the beams had been painted over and several of the mechanical arms were stuck in the up position. During the investigation, four of the mechanical arms were manipulated with a metal pole and it was possible to stick three of the four in the up position. The latches were sticking due to a lack of cleaning and greasing of their connections.


    The root causes of the accident were failure to equip the rear crossover beam with safety latches that would have prevented overtravel of the hoist along with the failure to properly inspect, maintain and promptly correct defects on the safety latches that were provided on the overhead beams.


    Order No. 6090058 was issued on February 13, 2002, under the provisions of Section 103(k) of the Mine Act:
    A fatal accident occurred at this operation on February 13, 2002, when a lifting hoist fell from an overhead beam about 19 feet to the walkway of the 7820 Marion dragline, striking an electrician. This order is issued to assure the safety of all persons at this operation until the dragline can be returned to normal operations as determined by an authorized representative of the Secretary of Labor. The mine operator shall obtain prior approval from an authorized representative of the secretary for all actions to recover and/or restore operations to the affected area.
    Citation No. 6090309 was issued on February 16, 2002, under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of standard 56.14100(b):
    A fatal accident occurred at this operation on February 13, 2002, when a lifting hoist fell approximately 19 feet and struck the victim. Safety defects on the beams located in the right rear hoisting area of the dragline, had not been corrected in a timely manner. The safety latch (stop) installed on the right moveable beam, which would have prevented the hoist from moving to the stationary beam, was stuck in the up position, and safety latches (stops) were not installed on the stationary beam which would have prevented the hoist from falling from the end of the beam.

    Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
    Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon FAB02M09


    Persons Participating in the Investigation

    Rinker Materials Corporation
    Alan G. MacVicar ......... safety manager aggregate division
    Johnny R. Arellano ......... operations manager, south region
    Danny M. Blomme ......... assistant quarry manager
    Adams, Coogler, Watson, Merkel arry & Kellner, P.A.
    Stephanie Brown ......... attorney at law
    Mine Safety and Health Administration
    Joel B. Richardson ......... mine safety and health inspector
    Steve J. Kirkland ......... supervisory mine safety and health inspector
    Gharib Ibrahim ......... civil engineer
    Donald T. Kirkwood, Jr. ......... supervisory civil engineer


    Persons Interviewed

    Rinker Materials Corporation
    Danny M. Blomme ......... assistant quarry manager
    Alexander Coleman ......... dragline operator-oiler
    Printice Stanley ......... dragline operator
    Luis Alberto Distrubell ......... electrician leadman
    Clarence Turner ......... mechanic A
    Emilio Garcia ......... mechanic B
    Alan G. MacVicar ......... safety manager