MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
North Central District
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health
Accident Investigation Report
Surface Nonmetal Mine
Fatal Powered Haulage Accident
Howard Construction Company
Sergeant Bluff Pit
Sergeant Bluff, Woodbury County, Iowa
I. D. No. 13-02219
July 23, 1998
Steven M. Richetta
Supervisory Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Fred H. Tisdale
Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Dennis L. Kintz
Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Dennis L. Ferlich
Mine Safety and Health Administration
515 W. First Street, #333
Duluth, MN 55802-1302
Felix A. Quintana
Randy D. Howard, mine owner, age 42, was fatally injured at 8:37 a.m. on July 23, 1998 when he was crushed inside the cab of a water truck he was operating while making a U-turn. Howard had about 20 years total mining experience, eight of which were at this mine performing this job. He had not received training in accordance with 30 CFR Part 48.
MSHA was notified on the day of the accident by a telephone call from the Iowa Division of Labor. An investigation was started the same day.
The Sergeant Bluff Pit, an open pit common clay mine owned by Sioux City Brick and Tile Company and operated by Howard Construction Company, was located at Sergeant Bluff, Woodbury County, Iowa. The principal operating official was Randy D. Howard, owner. The mine was normally operated one, 10-hour shift a day, five days a week. A total of five persons was employed.
Clay was extracted with pan scrapers and bulldozers from a pit located adjacent to the brick plant. The material was stockpiled at the plant for use in the manufacture of bricks.
The mine operator failed to notify MSHA upon commencement of operations and the mine had not been inspected by MSHA. The mine operator ceased mining operations after this accident.
The accident occurred at the clay stockpile located at the west side of the brick plant. The stockpile was about 200 feet long and 50 feet wide. The top of the stockpile was fairly level, but an uneven surface had been created by unloading the pan scrapers.
The truck involved in the accident was a 1954 Caterpillar, model DW 15, powered by a 150-HP engine with a 5-speed manual transmission. The tank trailer attached to the tractor was of unknown origin and contained approximately 4,000 gallons of water, which was about 3/4 of its capacity. The tractor and trailer were not designed to be connected together. The trailer tongue was a goose-neck type attachment and did not provide clearance for the rear tires and left fender on the tractor. Several braces for the fender and cab were broken prior to the accident.
A post-mortem report indicated the victim had alcohol levels in his body that exceeded the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle in the state of Iowa.
Weather conditions at the time of the accident were cloudy and warm.
On the day of the accident, Randy Howard (victim) arrived at the mine at about 6:00 a.m., his normal starting time. Other workers arrived at 6:45 a.m. At about 7:00 a.m., Howard told Timothy Goodsell, bulldozer operator, to help him push-start the water truck. After the truck was started, Howard filled the tank and watered the road from the pit to the stockpile. Afterward, he operated a motor grader.
At about 8:00 a.m., Howard returned to the water truck and began watering the road at the pit, then drove to the top of the stockpile where he attempted to make a U-turn. He turned to the left and the right rear tractor tire dropped about 18 inches due to the uneven surface of the stockpile. When the right rear tire dropped, the left rear tire raised, pinching the left rear fender of the truck between the tire and the tongue of the trailer. The fender was pushed into the rear of the operator's compartment, crushing Howard against the steering wheel and windshield.
Joseph Henry, scraper operator, was driving toward the stockpile with a load of clay and noticed the water truck on the stockpile. Upon closer observation, he saw that Howard had been injured and was bleeding. He attempted to stop the bleeding, then ran to the office for assistance. Randy J. Howard, scraper operator and son of the victim, was en route to the stockpile with a load when he noticed Henry's scraper stopped on the roadway. He walked up the stockpile to see what was wrong. At about this same time, Henry returned from the office. They attempted first aid treatment, but Howard was unresponsive.
Ambulance and rescue squad personnel freed Howard using torches and the jaws of life a short time later. He was transported to a local medical center where he was pronounced dead.
The accident was caused by coupling the tractor and trailer, which were not designed to be used together. Connecting them did not allow adequate clearance for the tire and fender to move freely under the trailer tongue. Failing to repair the broken left fender braces and cab supports may have contributed to the severity of the accident. Alcohol intoxication could have been a contributing factor.
Citation No. 7825750 was issued on September 3, 1998, under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.14205:
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on July 23, 1998 when the mine operator, who was driving a water truck, was crushed inside the cab. The tractor and tank trailer were not designed to be connected and lacked sufficient clearance for turning on uneven ground. The victim was making a U-turn when the accident occurred.
This citation was terminated on September 9, 1998. This water truck was permanently removed from service and this company has ceased mining.
Citation No. 7825751 was issued on September 3, 1998, under the provisions of Section 104(d)(1) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.14100(b):
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on July 23, 1998 when the mine operator, who was driving a water truck, was crushed inside the cab. The fender brackets and the cab frame were broken prior to the accident and had not been repaired. These defects were obvious to anyone operating or examining this vehicle. Failure to correct obvious safety defects is a lack of reasonable care and is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory safety standard.
This citation was terminated on September 3, 1998. This water truck was permanently removed from service and this company has ceased mining.
Order No. 7825752 was issued on September 3, 1998, under the provisions of Section 104(d)(1) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.20001:
The mine operator was fatally injured at this operation on July 23, 1998 in an accident involving a water truck he was operating. Medical tests indicated alcohol levels in the victim exceeded the legal limit permitted to operate a motor vehicle. Operating mobile equipment while under the influence of alcohol constitutes more than ordinary negligence and is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory safety standard.
The citation was terminated on September 3, 1998. The mine owner is deceased and his company has ceased mining.
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin: