DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health
Accident Investigation Report
Surface Nonmetal Mine
Fatal Slip or Fall of Person Accident
Nicholson, Hancock County, Mississippi
Mine I.D. No. 22-00679
September 10, 1996
Willard J. Graham
Supervisory Mine Inspector
Benny W. Lara
Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Mine Safety and Health Administration
135 Gemini Circle, Suite 212
Birmingham, Alabama 35209
Joseph L. Boudreaux, Jr., laborer, age 45, drowned at about 8:30 a.m., on September 10, 1996, when he fell from the dredge's discharge pipe line into 20 feet of water. Boudreaux had about three months mining experience, all at this operation. The victim had not received training in accordance with 30 CFR Part 48.
MSHA learned of the accident by an anonymous phone call to the Denham Springs, Louisiana, Field Office at 9:30 a.m. on September 11, 1996. Donald Fisk, president, notified the Southeastern District Office of the accident by a telephone call at about
3:30 p.m. on September 11, 1996. An investigation was started the same day.
The Scott Pit, a sand and gravel operation, owned and operated by Cousins' Aggregate, was located off highway 607, 1.8 miles East of Nicholson, Hancock County, Mississippi. The principal operating official was Donald Fisk, President. The dredge and plant were operated one, 8-10 hour shift per day, 5-6 days per week. Three persons were employed at the mine site.
Sand and gravel was mined from a two acre pond by a ten-inch suction dredge and material was pumped to an elevated screening plant. Construction of the dredge and plant began in February 1996 and dredging began on an intermittent basis in August 1996. The operation was still in the set-up and testing mode when the accident occurred. Small stockpiles of sand and gravel were observed at the mine site.
MSHA became aware of this plant's existence as a result of the fatal accident. This operation had not been inspected by MSHA prior to the fatality.
The pond, where the accident occurred, covered an area of approximately two acres and varied in depth. The 10-inch pipeline from the dredge to the screening plant measured
220 feet. The pipeline extended 84 feet across the water and was supported about
28 inches above the water by four floating pontoons.
A flat bottom aluminum boat was provided for access to the dredge. It measured 12 feet long, 3 feet 8 inches wide at the bow, and 4 feet 5 inches wide at the stern. The boat was located on the pond bank where the dredge discharge line exited the pond. Water had been leaking into the bottom of the boat and the stern was inundated with water. No Coast Guard certification could be found on the boat. Because of the condition of the boat, it was common practice to access the dredge by walking the pipeline. Employees stated that this was usually done without life jackets being worn, even though they were provided.
It could not be determined if the victim knew how to swim.
DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT
On the day of the accident Joseph Boudreaux Jr., victim, reported for work at 7:45 a.m., his normal reporting time. He met John Caldwell, superintendent, and Alex Parker, dredge operator and the three men discussed the pending job of removing a worn shaker screen bearing. About 8:00 a.m., Caldwell, Boudreaux and Parker climbed up to the work deck of the screening plant to change the bearing. A short time later, Caldwell instructed Boudreaux to go under the screening plant to get a sledgehammer. Boudreaux returned to the ground and tied the sledgehammer onto a rope for Caldwell to hoist to the work deck. Boudreaux remained on the ground.
Caldwell and Parker used the sledgehammer and a pry bar in an attempt to remove the defective bearing. Realizing they needed another pry bar to exert pressure from both sides of the bearing, Caldwell yelled to Boudreaux to get another pry bar which was on the dredge.
Boudreaux walked to the edge of the pond, past the boat, and got on the pipeline.
Moments later, Caldwell and Parker heard a cry for help. They looked toward the dredge and saw Boudreaux in the water, struggling to stay afloat. Immediately, both men climbed down the work deck and ran toward the pond. Caldwell went to the boat and struggled to dump the water that had partially filled it. When he saw Boudreaux go under water and not resurface, he went to his pick-up truck and called the Pearl River Sheriff's Office.
Parker, in the meantime, walked the discharge pipe to the dredge where he obtained a 10-foot section of �-inch PVC pipe. He went back to where he last saw Boudreaux and began pushing the pipe through the water in hopes Boudreaux would grab the pipe.
Approximately 20 minutes after Caldwell made the telephone call, deputies from the Sheriff's office arrived at the scene of the accident. A dive team was summoned to the property by the Sheriff's deputies and Boudreaux's body was recovered in about 20 feet of water. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the county coroner. The cause of death was asphyxia due to drowning.
The direct cause of the accident was the failure to provide a safe means of access to the dredge. The unsafe condition of the boat likely encouraged employees to use the 10-inch pipeline to gain access to the dredge. Failure to wear personal flotation devices, where there was danger of falling into the water, contributed to the severity of the accident.
Citation No. 4446089
Issued on September 12, 1996, under the provisions of section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of section 103(j) of the Act and 30 CFR 50.10.
Citation No. 4446093
Issued on September 12, 1996, under provisions of Section 104(d)1 of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.11001.
Order No. 4446094
Issued on September 12, 1996, under the provisions of section 104(d)1 of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.15020.
Order No. 4446095
Issued on September 12, 1996, under the provisions of section 104(d)1 of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.14100(b).
/s/ Willard J. Graham
Supervisory Mine Inspector
/s/ Benny W. Lara
Mine Safety & Health Inspector
Approved By: Martin Rosta, District Manager
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