DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health
ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REPORT
SURFACE NONMETAL MINE
FATAL ELECTRICAL ACCIDENT
IMC Agrico Company
Mulberry, Polk County, Florida
September 12, 1995
Harry L. Verdier
Supervisory Mine Inspector
Donald L. Collier
Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Mine Safety and Health Administration
135 Gemini Circle, Suite 212
Birmingham, Alabama 35209
Jennings O. Gainer, lineman first class, age 58, was fatally injured at about 6:10 p.m. on September 12, 1995, when he contacted an energized 4160 volt power conductor and was electrocuted. The victim had a total of ten years, seven months mining experience in this job with this company.
The MSHA Bartow, Florida, field office was notified of the accident on the following day by a message left on the answering machine. An investigation was started immediately.
The Ft. Green mine, an open pit phosphate operation, owned and operated by IMC-Agrico Company was located east off State Road 37 about 15 miles south of Mulberry, Polk County, Florida. The operating official was L. F. Turner, vice-president and general manager. The mine and plant were normally operated three, 8-hour shifts a day, 7 days a week. A total of 225 persons was employed.
The phosphate was mined by removing the overburden and placing the material in adjacent mined out areas. The underlying matrix was excavated by large draglines and deposited in shallow sumps or wells where hydraulic guns broke up the material. The resulting slurry was pumped through pipelines to a beneficiation plant for washing, screening, sizing and flotation. The material was put in storage bins, then loaded into railroad cars and transported to chemical plants for further processing.
The last regular inspection of this operation was conducted
August 14-21, 1995. Employees had received training in
accordance with 30 CFR, Part 48. The victim had received annual
refresher training on April 10, 1995.
PHYSICAL FACTORS INVOLVED
The No. 4 matrix lift pump was being moved. This required that the power line be extended and an additional pole be installed near the pump. The accident occurred at the newly installed power pole. The pump and power pole were located about 4000 feet from the No. 716 electrical substation.
Electricity was received at 69,000 volts and reduced to 4,160 volts, three phase wye, resistance grounded at the No. 716 substation. The grounding resistor was rated at 48 ohms and limited the ground fault current to 50 amperes.
Circuit "A" which supplied power for the No. 4 matrix lift pump, consisted of three overhead bare conductors and a ground wire. The circuit was protected by a breaker and knife blade disconnects, located at the No. 716 substation.
At the newly installed power pole, three knife blade disconnects were mounted on two ten foot long horizontal crossarms which were eighteen inches apart. The lower crossarm was eleven feet above ground level. The power lines were connected to the top of the disconnect, which were open at the time of the accident.
The three single conductors, to be connected to the bottom of the disconnects, were supported by a 2-inch nylon sling 3 feet long.
One end of the sling was attached to the conductors and the other
to a lag bolt in the pole about 18 inches below the lower
DESCRIPTION OF THE ACCIDENT
On the day of the accident, Jennings O. Gainer, victim, reported to work at 7:00 a.m., his regular starting time. He and his co-worker were to install a pole and extend the power line for the No. 4 matrix lift pump. Work progressed normally until about 5:50 p.m. At that time the installation was completed and the power lines had been connected to the top of the disconnects. Gainer drove the hydraulically operated bucket truck, which had been used in the installation of the powerline, to the No. 716 substation. He then removed his grounding jumpers and tag, then closed the disconnects above the circuit breaker.
Lee Barnes, electrical foreman, who was also at the substation, instructed Gainer to return to the No. 4 matrix lift pump location with the bucket truck to assist in connecting the conductors to the bottom of the disconnects, since all that was available at the pump was a six foot step ladder. Barnes then closed the circuit breaker for Circuit A, energizing the power line, and Gainer left the substation.
When Gainer arrived at the No. 4 lift pump, he parked his truck and used the six foot step ladder to gain access to connect the conductors to the disconnects. While standing on the ladder he connected the ground wire and then attempted to pull himself up by placing one foot on the supporting sling and the other on the lower crossarm. It appeared that Gainer lost his balance, grabbed the far left conductor above the knife blade disconnects with his left hand and then fell from the pole.
The victims four co-workers who were at the scene immediately
administered CPR and used their radio to call for help. The
local rescue service arrived a short time later and Gainer was
transported to the Lakeland Regional Medical Center where he was
pronounced dead on arrival.
The direct cause of the accident was failure to use safe access
from which to perform the work. Contributing to the severity of
the accident was the failure to de-energize and lock out the
electrical circuit before performing electrical work.
Citation No. 4301371 was issued on September 27, 1995, under provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of Standard 50.10:
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on September 12, 1995, at about 6:10 p.m. when an employee contacted a 4160 volt power conductor. A message was left on the local field office answering machine at 10:00 p.m. The answering machine gives directions for an emergency to call the District Office in Birmingham at (205) 290-7294. There is also an 800 number listed in 30 CFR Part 50.10 that should be called if the appropriate MSHA District Office cannot be contacted. Additionally, the local field office supervisor's phone number is available in the local telephone book. The operator made no attempt to contact anyone other than the answering machine.
The citation was terminated the same day after the requirements of Standard 50.10 were discussed with the operator.
Citation No. 4301372 was issued on September 27, 1995, under provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of Standard 50.12:
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on September 12, 1995, at about 6:10 p.m. when an employee contacted an energized 4160 volt power conductor. The accident site had been altered prior to MSHA beginning/completing an investigation. The ladder and tools used had been removed from the site and the company had connected the conductors and commenced production. Permission had not been given by MSHA. The alterations were not necessary for the rescue or recovery of an individual, or to prevent or eliminate an imminent danger, or to prevent destruction of mining equipment.
The citation was terminated the same day after the requirement of Standard 50.12 was discussed with the operator.
Citation No. 4301373 was issued on September 27, 1995, under provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of Standard 56.12017:
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on September 12, 1995, at about 6:10 p.m. when an employee contacted an energized 4160 volt power conductor. The employee attempted to climb onto the crossarm of the power pole at the No. 4 matrix lift pump, No. 8 dragline side in order to connect the switchgear conductors to the knife blade disconnects on the power pole crossarm. The power circuit was not de-energized and locked out and hot line tools were not being used.
Citation No. 4301374 was issued on September 27, 1995, under provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of Standard 56.11001:
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on September 12, 1995, at about 6:10 p.m. when an employee contacted an energized 4160 volt power conductor. The employee attempted to climb onto the crossarm of the power pole at the No. 4 matrix lift pump, No. 8 dragline side in order to connect the switchgear conductors to the knife blade disconnects on the power pole crossarm. Safe access was not provided. A 6 foot fiberglass stepladder leaned against the power pole had been used. The lower crossarm was about 11 feet above the ground. A bucket truck was available at the site but was not used.
Respectfully submitted by:
/s/ Harry L. Verdier
Supervisory Mine Inspector
/s/ Donald L. Collier Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin: