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Rocky Mountain District
Metal & Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health


Henderson Mine and Mill [I.D. No. 05-00790]
Climax Molybdenum Company
Empire, Clear Creek, Colorado

July 19, 1995


Tyrone Goodspeed
Supervisory Mine Safety and Health Inspector

James V. Skinner
Mine Safety and Health Inspector (Electrical)

Originating Office
P.O. Box 25367 DFC
Denver, CO 80225-0367
Robert M. Friend, District Manager


Scott D. Christian, age 32, a delivery truck driver employed by Reliance Steel & Aluminum Company, was fatally injured at approximately 10:15 a.m., on July 19, 1995, when he was crushed by a falling H-beam. Christian had a total of 8 years experience as an over-the-road truck driver, three years with this company.

The Henderson Mine, an underground molybdenum operation, was located nine miles west of Empire, Clear Creek County, Colorado, off U.S. Highway 40. The mine was owned and operated by Climax Molybdenum Company.

Principal operating officials were:

Chris Janes, General Manager
William D. Rech, Mine Manager
Arthur Davis, Safety Manager

The mine normally operated two, 10-hour development shifts and two, 12-hour production shifts, 7 days a week. The mine and mill employed a total of 470 employees.

The mine development was begun in 1968, and production was started in 1976. The mining method employed at his operation was known as a "panel caving" system. Ore in the section being mined was undercut by drilling and blasting. Ore continuously "caved" by gravity into large drawpoints where it was loaded into load-haul-dump (LHD) units and transferred to ore passes. It was then placed into rail cars at the bottom of the ore pass system and removed from the mine by rail haulage through a 9-1/2 mile tunnel and 5 miles of surface travel to the mill.

The mine surface complex consisted of an office building, a shop, a warehouse, material storage areas, and hoisting facilities. Three shafts served the mine site. Numbers 1 and 2 shafts were utilized for underground ventilation. The Number 3 shaft, used for men and material, was 3,100-feet deep and 28-feet in diameter with a 230 person capacity.

Reliance Steel & Aluminum Company was a metals warehouse distributor located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The corporate office was located in Los Angeles, California. The company had been in business for 53 years and employed 600 persons.

Principal operating officials were:

William Gimbel, Chairman of the Board
Joseph Crider, President
David Hannah, Chief, Financial Officer

The Mine Safety and Health Administration, Rocky Mountain District Office, Denver, Colorado, was notified of the accident on July 19, 1995, at 10:58 a.m., by a telephone call from William Berglof, safety coordinator, Climax Molybdenum Company. An investigation was started the same day.

The last regular inspection of this mine was conducted May 8 through June 8, 1995. An MSHA-approved training plan was in effect at this operation.


The flatbed trailer involved in the accident was manufactured in 1981 by Hobbs. The trailer measured 41-feet in length, 8-feet in width, and was 53-inches high. The trailer was pulled by a 1994 Freightliner cabover tractor, Model T.T. The truck and trailer were owned by Reliance Steel & Aluminum Company.

The integrated tool carrier involved in the accident, owned by Climax Molybdenum Company, was a Caterpillar Model IT 28F, Serial Number 310038, with a load capacity of 9,000 pounds. The integrated tool carrier tine length's were 42-inches.

The H-beam which struck and crushed the victim was one of eight that had been loaded lengthwise on the trailer in two stacks of four each. Each beam measured 10- by 10-inches, was 30-feet in length and weighed approximately 2,045 pounds.

The load of steel on the truck when the accident occurred consisted of the following materials from the trailer bed upward:

  1. Three small stacks of angle iron, steel tubing, and metal stock were positioned on wooden block supports.

  2. Three sheets of flat plate steel extended the full width of the trailer.

  3. A chained bundle of 50 pieces of square tubing along with round, square, and flat metal stock. The bundle was located on the driver's side edge of the trailer.

  4. The eight H-beams were in two stacks of four, edge up, in the center of the trailer and were separated from the steel sheets by wood blocking.

Steel grating and twelve, 6- by 6-inch H-beams, located at the tractor end of the trailer, were unloaded at the west side of the warehouse prior to the accident.


Mr. Christian reported to the Reliance Steel & Aluminum Company truck terminal, Colorado Springs, Colorado, at approximately 6:00 a.m., on July 19, 1995. Christian was scheduled to deliver a load of miscellaneous steel beams, grating and steel stock to the Henderson Mine at Empire, Colorado, located 120 miles northwest of the terminal.

Floyd Knight, mine forklift operator, reported for work at 7:00 a.m., his regular scheduled starting time. After conferring with Robert White, supervisor, Knight proceeded to perform warehouse and material handling duties.

Christian left the terminal at approximately 6:30 a.m., and proceeded to Empire, Colorado, arriving at the Henderson Mine at approximately 9:30 a.m. Upon arrival, Christian contacted Abel Martinez, warehouse person, and informed him that he had a delivery of steel material.

Martinez, instructed Knight to proceed with the integrated tool carrier to a company unloading area located west of the warehouse. Martinez proceeded to the unloading area, where he observed Christian at the front of the trailer unchaining steel grating. After Knight unloaded the grating with the integrated tool carrier, Martinez instructed him and Christian to proceed to the east side of the warehouse to continue unloading steel.

At approximately 10:15 a.m., Knight positioned the integrated tool carrier on the east side of the parked trailer and prepared to lift the first of two stacks of 10- by 10-inch H-beams. Christian was standing on the bundle of miscellaneous steel stock located near the west edge of the trailer, opposite the integrated tool carrier. He was using hand signals to direct Knight as the H-beams were being handled. When the H-beams were lifted, the four beam stack located on the west side of the trailer toppled to the west. The top beam rolled off the stacked bundle striking Christian, and caused him to fall backward from the trailer to the paved ground, approximately 6-feet below. The beam rolled off the truck and struck Christian, who was laying on his back on the ground.

Knight, who saw the victim lying on the ground west of the trailer, immediately radioed the mine hoistman to secure help. Several employees heard the radio call and proceeded to the accident scene. Daniel N. Holmberg, electrician and EMT with the company, arrived at the scene and checked Christian for a pulse and detected none.

Due to the severity of his injuries, it was apparent that the victim could not be resuscitated.

The Clear Creek County ambulance and county coroner were immediately contacted and arrived a short time later. Christian was pronounced dead at the scene by the coroner. Knight was treated for shock and transported to the Lutheran Hospital near Denver, Colorado. He was released the following day.


The factors which contributed to this accident were:

  1. Failure to ensure that all persons were in the clear of possible shifting or falling hazards; and,

  2. Failure to provide hazard recognition training related to safe handling and unloading of materials.


The following order and citations were issued to Climax Molybdenum Company during the investigation:

Order No. 4665921, 103 (k)

Issued 7/19/95, at 1423 hours.
A delivery truck driver was fatally injured at approximately 1015 hours on 7/19/95.

The accident occurred during unloading of steel H-beams in the area east of the maintenance shop. The victim was knocked from the west side of his truck trailer and crushed by a large steel H-beam. Beams were being removed from the east side of the truck trailer with a integrated tool carrier (forklift).

This order is being issued to secure the site and ensure the safety of persons on the mine property. This order shall remain in effect until a site investigation is completed by MSHA investigators.

Terminated 7/19/95, at 1735 hours.

The site investigation has been completed by MSHA investigators. Therefore, this order is terminated and the equipment and area released.

Citation No. 4665922, 104 (a)

Issued 7/20/95, at 1530 hours for a violation of 57.9201.

A delivery truck driver was fatally injured on 7/19/95, at approximately 1015 hours when he was knocked down from the tractor trailer he was standing on.

One of the steel H-beams they were unloading shifted, knocking the driver to the ground. The H-beam landed on him causing the fatal injury.

The truck driver placed himself in an unsafe position. When the H-beam shifted and fell he couldn't get clear of the falling H-beam.

Terminated 8/14/95, at 1410 hours.

Forklift operators were reinstructed to ensure that others in the area of unloading remain in the clear.

Citation No. 4665923, 104 (a)

Issued 7/20/95 at 1615 hours for a violation of 48.31.

A delivery truck driver was fatally injured on 7/19/95, at approximately 1015 hours, when he was knocked down from the tractor trailer he was standing on. The victim was fatally crushed by a H-beam which had knocked him from the truck.

The victim had not been given hazard training by the company, relative to the hazards involved during the unloading of materials from trucks. The hazards a person would most likely be exposed to included load shifting during unloading, safe driver locations for monitoring unloading, and compliance with safe work practices while on mine property.

The accident indicates that the truck driver was not following safe work practices while his truck was being unloaded.

Terminated 8/14/95, at 1400 hours.

Persons responsible for hazard training of delivery truck drivers were reinstructed for the requirements of hazard recognition training.

Respectfully submitted by:

/s/ Tyrone Goodspeed
Supv. Mine Safety and Health Inspector

/s/ James V. Skinner
Mine Safety and Health Inspector (E)

Approved by,

Robert M. Friend
District Manager
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB95M22]

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