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UNITED STATES
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION


Northeast District
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health


Accident Investigation Report
Surface Nonmetal Mine
(Sand and Gravel)


Fatal Powered Haulage Accident


Michael Peryea Paving &Trucking
Peryea Pit
Beekmantown, Clinton County, New York
I.D. No. 30-02817


November 12, 1997

Issuing Office
Northeastern District Office
230 Executive Drive, Suite 2
Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania 16066-6415


James R. Petrie
District Manager


GENERAL INFORMATION



Bruce W. Kirk, crusher operator, age 46, was fatally injured about 3:30 p.m., on November 12, 1997, when he was drawn into the tail pulley of a conveyor belt. Kirk had a total of 2 years mining experience working for this employer on a part-time basis. He had not received training in accordance with 30 CFR Part 48.



MSHA learned of the accident through a newspaper article on the morning of November 13, 1997. An investigation was started the same day.



The Peryea Pit, a sand and gravel operation, owned and operated by Michael Peryea Paving & Trucking, was located near Beekmantown, Clinton County, New York. The principal operating official was Michael Peryea, owner. The mine was operated intermittently as material was needed. The month preceding the accident, the mine had operated a single 8-hour shift for 5 days. Normally 2 persons were employed. However, on the day of the accident, 4 persons were on-site the victim and 3 contractor employees.



Sand and gravel was extracted from a single bench and transported to the plant by a front-end loader and backhoe where it was crushed and sized. The finished product was used as aggregate in the operator's construction business. On the day of the accident, however, Thomas Peryea, brother of Michael Peryea, was using an over-the-road haul truck to transport gravelly material from a trailer park site he was developing to the plant for processing. The processed material was then transported back to the site for use as roadway fill.



The last regular inspection of this operation was conducted on June 1, 1990. An attempted inspection was conducted on September 4, 1991. At that time, there was no activity at the pit and Michael Peryea, owner, stated that he was closed and no longer operating. Peryea resumed operation in the spring of 1995 without notifying MSHA pursuant to 30 CFR 56.1000.

PHYSICAL FACTORS INVOLVED



The crushing/screening plant, where the accident occurred, was originally a portable Austin-Western, 10-inch-by-40-inch jaw crusher. It had been modified by removing the wheels and installing a sizing screen and conveyor belts. A GMC Detroit, Model 471, 150-horsepower, diesel engine powered the plant.



Material to be processed was dumped into the primary hopper and discharged onto a conveyor belt that fed it to a sizing screen. Screened material fell into the discharge hopper, while oversized material fell into the crusher. A chute at the bottom of the discharge hopper deposited the screened material onto a 12-foot long, 30-inch wide conveyor belt that transported it to a stockpile. The victim became caught in the tail pulley of this belt.



The tail pulley was smooth and measured 34 inches long and 10 inches in diameter. It was driven by the diesel engine powering the plant through a chain and sprocket. The tail pulley was located at ground level, approximately 3 feet behind the chute below the discharge hopper. There were no guards on either side of the pulley to prevent persons from contacting the pinch points. At the time of the investigation, the discharge hopper and chute were full of partially frozen material.



A steel pipe, measuring 4 feet long and 1 inch in diameter, was found on the work platform adjacent to the screen. Reportedly, it had been used to dislodge material that hung up in the discharge hopper and chute. A steel jack handle and a package of cigarettes were found on the conveyor belt immediately in front of the tail pulley.



The plant had broke down several days prior to the accident. Reportedly, Thomas Peryea had discussed repairing the plant with his brother, Michael who was out of town on the day of the accident.



The weather conditions at the time of the accident were approximately 32°F, with light snow.

DESCRIPTION OF THE ACCIDENT



On the day of the accident, Thomas Peryea (owner of Peryea Construction) and Louis Williams, one of his employees, arrived at the mine at about 8:30 a.m. The two men began to repair the hopper, chain drive, and conveyor belt. Bruce Kirk (victim) arrived at about 9:30 a.m., while repairs were in progress. He told Thomas Peryea that the crusher also needed repaired, and then left the property about 11:00 a.m. for a job interview. Peryea and Williams completed the repairs and then stopped for lunch at about noon.



After lunch, Peryea and Williams were joined by Gordon Harvey, front-end loader operator. Harvey fed the plant while Peryea ran the crusher and Williams hauled material from the plant to Thomas Peryea's construction site. The plant was operated until about 2:30 p.m. when the discharge hopper and chute became plugged with wet material.



At about 2:30 p.m., Kirk returned to the plant from his job interview while Peryea was attempting to unplug the hopper and chute. Kirk reportedly shut down the plant and showed Peryea how to dislodge the wet material. Peryea stood on the work platform adjacent to the screen and used the steel pipe to knock down the material hung up in the hopper. At the same time, Kirk went to the chute below the hopper and used the jack handle to dislodge the material in it.



Once the material was flowing again, Peryea left the property while Kirk continued to operate the plant. At about 3:20 p.m., the hopper and chute plugged again. Kirk reportedly reduced the diesel engine speed to idle, which allowed the drive belts, chain, and conveyor belts to rotate slowly. He told Harvey that the hopper and chute had plugged again and that they should discontinue crushing because it would be dark before they could get it unplugged. Kirk then went to the opposite side of the plant where he could access the chute below the discharge hopper.



Harvey was about to leave the property but decided to ask Kirk if he would be needed the following day. As he approached the side of the plant where Kirk was working, he saw Kirk in a kneeling position caught in the pinch point between the conveyor belt and the tail pulley. Harvey motioned for Williams, who was operating the backhoe, to shut off the plant engine. Williams then went over and checked Kirk for vital signs. Finding none, Williams left the property to find a telephone to call for help.



The local rescue squad arrived about 4:00 p.m. and disassembled the tail pulley to extract Kirk. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the local coroner at 5:30 p.m.

CONCLUSION



The cause of the accident was failure to shut off the plant before performing work on the chute. Failure to guard the tail pulley was a contributing factor.

VIOLATIONS



Order No. 4285148
Issued on November 13, 1997, under the provisions of Section 103(k) of the Mine Act to insure the safety of persons at the mine until recovery efforts are complete and affected areas of the mine can return to normal operation.

This order was terminated on December 17, 1997, after the operator closed the mine and provided a written statement that the crusher would not be operated again.



Citation No. 7707687
Issued on December 15, 1997, under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.1000:

A fatal accident occurred at this mine on 11/12/97. The operator failed to notify MSHA of the date mine operations commenced. The mine had been permanently closed on 9/4/91, and the operator had not notified MSHA of its reopening. It was determined that the mine had operated intermittently since the spring of 1995.

This citation was terminated on December 17, 1997, after MSHA's reporting procedures for mine openings and closings were explained to the mine operator.



Citation No. 7707688
Issued on December 15, 1997, under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 50.10:

On 11/12/97, at approximately 3:30 p.m., a fatal accident occurred at this mine. The operator failed to immediately notify MSHA of the accident. MSHA learned of it the following day through the news media.

The citation was terminated on December 17, 1997, after MSHA's reporting procedures for accidents were explained to the mine operator.



Citation No. 7707689
Issued on December 15, 1997, under the provisions of Section 104(d)(1) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.14107(a):

On 11/12/97, at approximately 3:30 p.m., a fatal accident occurred at this mine when an employee was caught and drawn into the pinch-point of the unguarded rotating tail pulley for the discharge conveyor belt. The tail pulley was located at ground level, approximately 3 feet from the discharge chute, and could be easily accessed. The operator was aware of the requirement to guard pinch-points. This violation is an unwarrantable failure to comply with the standard and constitutes reckless disregard.

The citation was terminated on December 17, 1997. The operator had closed the mine and provided a written statement that he would not operate the portable crusher located at this mine site.



Order No. 7707690
Issued on December 15, 1997, under the provisions of Section 104(d)(1) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.14105:

On 11/12/97, at approximately 3:30 p.m., a fatal accident occurred at this mine when an employee was caught and drawn into the pinch-point of the unguarded rotating tail pulley for the discharge conveyor belt. The employee was working on or near the discharge conveyor belt next to the unguarded tail pulley. The diesel engine driving the crusher and conveyor belt had not been shut off. This violation is an unwarrantable failure to comply with the standard and constitutes more than ordinary negligence.

This order was terminated on December 17, 1997, after the operator closed the mine and provided a written statement that the crusher would not be operated again.



Order No. 7707693
Issued on December 15, 1997, under the provisions of Section 104(d)(1) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.18002(a):

A fatal accident occurred at this mine on 11/12/97. The operator was not examining the workplace at least once each shift for conditions which may adversely affect safety or health. Numerous hazards were found which had existed for some time and had not been corrected. These included: pinch-points for exposed moving machine parts throughout the plant, including the tail pulley for the discharge conveyor belt which caused the fatal accident; a safe means of access was not provided to the work platform on the east side of the screen; handrails were not provided around the work platforms at the screen; signs prohibiting smoking or open flames were not provided near the fuel barrel for the diesel engine; berms were not provided on either side of the elevated roadway to the primary dump hopper; and, oxygen and acetylene cylinders were lying unsecured on the ground with their valves unprotected. This is an unwarrantable failure to comply with the standard and constitutes reckless disregard.

This order was terminated on December 17, 1997, after explaining to the mine operator the importance of conducting workplace examinations. The operator closed the mine and provided a written statement that the crusher would not be operated again.




Approved by: James R. Petrie, District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB97M59]