MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health
Accident Investigation Report
Surface Nonmetal Mill
Fatal Slip and Fall of Person Accident
Rozier Construction Company, Incorporated
Evans Clay Company
Evans Clay Company Mill
McIntyre, Wilkinson County, Georgia
August 21, 1998
Merle E. Slaton
Supervisory Mine Safety and Health Inspector
James C. Enochs
Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Mine Safety and Health Administration
135 Gemini Circle, Suite 212
Birmingham, Alabama 35209
Frank J. Flournoy, Jr., laborer, age 41, suffocated at about 5:50 p.m. on August 21, 1998, when he was engulfed by kaolin while working inside in a rail car. The victim had a total of 3 years experience as a laborer with the contractor. He had received annual refresher training in accordance with 30 CFR, Part 48 on January 24, 1998.
MSHA was notified at 7:05 p.m. on the day of the accident by a telephone call from the safety manager for the mining company. An investigation was started the same day.
The Evans Clay Company Mill, a kaolin milling operation, owned and operated by Evans Clay Company, was located at McIntyre, Wilkinson County, Georgia. The principal operating official was Franklin C. Bacon, vice president of operations. The mill was normally operated three, eight-hour shifts a day, seven days a week. A total of 58 persons was employed.
Kaolin was excavated from various pits by contractors using bulldozers, backhoes and front-end loaders. It was transported by truck to the plant where it was milled, dried and calcined. Processed material was stored in bins for bagging or shipped in bulk by rail car and truck. The final product was sold for use in fiberglass and paper industries.
The victim was employed by Rozier Construction Company, Incorporated (Rozier), an independent contractor located in McIntyre, Georgia. The principal operating official was Ronnie Rozier, owner. In addition to providing other contracting services at the mill, Rozier employed three persons for the primary purpose of cleaning out rail cars.
The last MSHA regular inspection of this operation was completed on May 7, 1998.
PHYSICAL FACTORS INVOLVED
The accident occurred at the shipping area at the plant. The rail car involved was a No. 5600 series covered hopper car manufactured by ACFX Industries. A walkway was provided on top. Total capacity of the car was 90 tons.
The car had 4 compartments. The end compartments were larger than the middle two. The accident occurred in one of the middle compartments. This compartment measured 10 feet, 4 inches wide; 11 feet, 5 inches long; and 11 feet, 8 inches high and held approximately 22 tons of material when fully loaded. There were two, 30-inch round hatch-covered openings on top of the car that provided access to the compartment. A discharge gate, located at the bottom center of the compartment, measured 3-1/2 feet by 1-foot, 1 inch.
The ladder used to climb into the rail car compartment was made by Rose Manufacturing Company. It was constructed of 1-inch web strapping that was �-inch thick, approximately 9-1/2 feet long, and 13-1/2 inches wide with round hooks on each side. Eleven aluminum rungs, each measuring 1-1/4 inches thick, were spaced 10-1/2 inches apart.
The victim was wearing a Rose Manufacturing Company safety belt, model 501072, with a 4-foot lanyard. A 13-foot length of 5/8-inch cotton rope had been tied to the lanyard as a lifeline. A Guzzler Manufacturing vacuum unit that produced 6000 CFM of free air through a 6-inch diameter hose was being used, the unit was mounted on a 1996, F8000 Ford truck with a 15-cubic yard holding tank.
DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT
On the day of the accident, Frank Flournoy, Jr., (victim) reported for work at 6:00 a.m., his normal starting time. He, along with Timichael Sims, laborer, and Andrew Todd, leadman, left Rozier's shop and traveled to Sandersville, Georgia, where they worked until about 3:00 p.m. Upon their return to the shop, they were dispatched to Evans Clay.
The three men arrived at the mill at about 4:30 p.m. and were instructed to unload the rail car. After the car had been initially loaded, the material was sampled and determined not to meet specifications and was to be unloaded.
Flournoy, Simms, and Todd assessed the job and they determined that additional hose was needed for the vacuum, as well as cardboard to drop the material onto so it would not be discharged onto the dirt. They returned to Rozier's shop and obtained the hose and a piece of cardboard that measured approximately 6 feet by 6 feet. At about 5:00 p.m. they returned to the mill and placed the cardboard under the discharge and opened the gate. As the material flowed onto the cardboard it was vacuumed.
After a few minutes, the material stopped flowing and Flournoy went to the top of the rail car to see why. He told Todd that there was a hole drawn in the material and that it was clinging to the sides. Flournoy stated that he would knock the kaolin down from inside the car. Todd told Flournoy to put on his safety belt and tie off.
Flournoy went to their pickup truck and got a safety belt with a lanyard, a rope to be used as a lifeline, a shovel and a ladder and then went back to the top of the rail car. He attached the ladder over the flange on the hatch opening, put on the safety belt, tied the rope to the lanyard and secured the other end of the rope to the walkway. He descended on the ladder into the car with the shovel and began raking the kaolin toward the center of the compartment so it would fall through the discharge gate.
Sims put on a safety belt and was about to enter the same hatch to help when Flournoy called to him to tell Todd to stop vacuuming. Todd could not hear over the noise of the vacuum so Sims climbed down from the car and shut off the vacuum. Sims and Todd called out to Flournoy to find out why he wanted the vacuum stopped. When they received no response, Sims went back on top of the rail car where he saw that Flournoy had been engulfed by the material. He pulled on the rope but was unable to pull Flournoy out. Todd came to assist Simms and they both pulled, but were unsuccessful in rescuing Flournoy. Todd ran to the foreman's office in the plant and reported that Flournoy was trapped inside the rail car. Calls were made for emergency assistance. Several persons from the plant went to the accident scene to help, but were unable to pull Flournoy out.
The ladder was moved to the other hatch opening so that when Flournoy was freed from the material they would be able to pull him up through the hatch where he entered. The vacuum hose was moved to the top of the car and placed inside the hatch opening. Eventually, enough material was removed and the men pulled Flournoy from the compartment.
The county rescue squad responded at about 6:15 p.m. and attempted to resuscitate Flournoy. He was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later by the county coroner. Death was attributed to suffocation.
Apparently, Flournoy fell from the ladder while trying to knock down the material and became engulfed because his lifeline was too long. Failure to have a second person stationed near the lifeline to prevent excessive slack was a contributing factor.
Evans Clay Company
Order No. 7786661 was issued on August 21, 1998, under provisions of Section 103(k):
On August 21, 1998 at about 5:50 p.m., an accident occurred at this mine resulting in the death of a contractor employee. This order is issued to insure the safety of other persons at the mine and prohibits any further activity in the area of the rail car clean out. No other work or repairs may be done within this area until this order is modified, vacated or terminated by an authorized representative of the secretary of the Department of Labor.
This order was terminated on August 25, 1998. Conditions that contributed to the accident have been corrected and normal mining operations can safely resume.
Rozier Construction Company, Incorporated
Citation Number 7766231 was issued on August 25, 1998, under provisions of Section 104(d)(1) for violation of Standard 56.16002(c):
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on August 21, 1998, when a laborer fell from a rope ladder he was working from and became engulfed in material inside the enclosed rail car compartment. The victim was wearing a safety belt, but the lifeline was too long to afford fall protection. A second person was not assigned to attend the lifeline to adjust the slack. Management engaged in aggravated conduct constituting more than ordinary negligence. This violation is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory standard.
This citation was terminated on August 25, 1998. A new clean-out procedure has been put in place. All employees have been indoctrinated in this procedure. New employees will be trained, as needed.
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin: