DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health
Accident Investigation Report
Surface Nonmetal Mine
Fatal Machinery Accident
Sunshine Rock, Incorporated
Miami, Dade County, Florida
Mine I.D. 08-01045
April 26, 1997
Merle E. Slaton
Supervisory Mine Inspector
Ezra L. Killian
Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Mine Safety and Health Administration
135 Gemini Circle, Suite 212
Birmingham, Alabama 35209
Santico Salazar, dragline operator, age 45, and Julio Hernandez, oiler, age 55, drowned at approximately 4:30 a.m., on April 26, 1997, when the dragline they were operating fell into 71 feet of water, carrying the victims with it.
Salazar had a total of four years mining experience, with three years at this mine as a dragline operator. Hernandez had been employed at this company for one year as an oiler. His total mining experience was unknown.
Neither of the men had received training in accordance with 30 CFR, Part 48.
The Director, Florida state mine safety and health program, notified the MSHA Bartow Field Office of the accident on April 28, 1997, after seeing coverage of the accident on television. The operator was contacted by telephone, the accident was confirmed, and on April 28, 1997, an investigation was started.
Sunshine Rock, a crushed limestone operation, owned and operated by Sunshine Rock, Incorporated, was located at 20100 N.W. 129 Avenue, Miami, Dade County, Florida. The principal operating official was Frank Licea, plant manager. The pit was normally operated two, 10 hours shifts, 5 days a week. Twenty-five persons were employed.
The area to be mined was normally below the water table once the overburden was removed. The mining site was leveled and compacted to form a working pad that was slightly elevated above the water table. This working pad supported the dragline, and other equipment.
The limestone deposit was broken by drilling and blasting. Broken material was excavated from below the water by draglines and stockpiled adjacent to the pit for drying. The material was then loaded by front-end loaders into portable crushers. The material was crushed, sized, screened and stockpiled.
The last regular inspection of this operation was completed on January 16, 1997.
PHYSICAL FACTORS INVOLVED
The pit area was 71 feet deep, filled with water and was approximately � mile long and � mile wide. The accident occurred at the northwest corner of the pit where the ground was close to level and slightly above water level.
The dragline involved in the accident was a Lima 2400B, serial number 712B191, weighed about 555,000 pounds and was powered by a D379B, 500 H.P. Caterpillar engine. It was equipped with a 130 foot boom and an 8 cubic yard bucket. The dragline was equipped with a number of floodlights on the boom and cab for nighttime operation.
The slide pinion lever was used to select either swing, boom or tram functions and the control lever operated the dragline in the function selected. The drum control lever was used to cast and retrieve the bucket, which could be done in any of the functions associated with the slide pinion lever.
The dragline was equipped with travel locks or "digging dogs", ratchet-type mechanisms which secured the tracks against movement. The travel locks could be set manually with electrical control switches, and were set automatically when the dragline was in the swing or boom functions.
The dragline was usually located perpendicular to the pit when mining material from it. Material was mined no closer than 3 feet from a buffer line located 16 feet from the edge of the pit. The buffer line was marked with rocks which were painted orange.
The accident occurred on the second shift. No supervisors were on mine property at the time the accident occurred.
DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT
On April 25, 1997, Santico Salazar, and Julio Hernandez, victims, reported to work at 4:30 p.m., their normal starting time. They were assigned to use the dragline to excavate material from the southwest corner of the pit. At 10:00 p.m., Osbeck Delatorie, dragline operator, was working on the other side of the pit and saw Salazar's dragline move toward the northwest corner of the pit. Delatorie continued to work until about 3:00 a.m., then shut down his dragline and left the property.
While Salazar and Hernandez were moving the dragline, the drive/travel chain broke and fell off the left track about 175 feet before they reached the northwest corner of the pit. This caused the loss of brake and steering on the left track. Tracks indicated that the dragline continued forward at a slight right angle and stopped parallel to the edge of the pit. The dragline would normally be operated while parked perpendicular to the pit. Due to the drive/travel chain no longer being on the left track it was impossible to steer the dragline to position it in such a manner.
By the size of the pile of material that was dug and stockpiled, it was estimated that they had worked until about 4:30 a.m., April 26, 1997, when the bank collapsed, causing the dragline to sink into about 71 feet of water.
Alfredo Benites, day shift dragline oiler, arrived at 5:00 a.m. to start his shift. When he could not find the dragline or the men, he returned to the office area and noticed Salazar's car still parked there. Benites returned to the work site, where he noticed the dragline boom protruding from the water. At 6:15 a.m., Frank Licea, manager, was contacted by phone and he then called 911.
The Dade County rescue squad arrived on the site at 7:00 a.m. and contacted Dade County Divers who arrived at approximately 8:30 a.m. Salazar's body was recovered at 1:30 p.m. directly in front of the dragline windshield outside of the cab.
Hernandez could not be found and the search for him continued until 6:50 a.m., April 29, 1997, when his body floated to the surface just north of the dragline.
The victims were pronounced dead by the Metro Dade Medical Examiner. The deaths were attributed to asphyxiation.
The causes of the accident were operating the dragline without the drive/travel chain which resulted in the inability to control the brake and steering on the left track of the dragline; positioning the dragline parallel to the pit rather than perpendicular to it during extraction operations; and excavating material in a manner which created unstable ground conditions.
Order No. 3875645
Issued on April 28, 1997, under the provisions of 103(K) of the Mine Act:
Citation No. 4549584
Issued on April 30, 1997, under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of Standard 56.14100(c):
Citation No. 4549585
Issued on April 30, 1997, under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of Standard 56.3130:
Citation No. 4549586
Issued on April 30, 1997, under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of Subpart 50.10:
Citation No. 4549587
Issued on April 30, 1997, under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of Standard 56.18009:
/s/ Merle E. Slaton
Supervisory Mine Inspector
/s/ Ezra L. Killian
Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Approved by: Martin Rosta, District Manager
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin: