MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health
Accident Investigation Report
Surface Nonmetal Mine
(Sand & Gravel)
Fatal Powered Haulage Accident
A. Servidone Incorporated
Spring Glen, Sullivan County, New York
I.D. No. 30-03197
March 18, 1999
Randal L. Gadway
Supervisory Mine Safety and Health Inspector
William C. Jensen
Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Stanley J. Michalek, P.E.
Mine Safety and Health Administration
230 Executive Drive, Suite 2
Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania 16066-6415
James R. Petrie
Charles W. Hewitt, plant superintendent, age 56, was fatally injured at about 9:00 a.m. on March 18, 1999, when he was caught in a return roller on a conveyor belt. Hewitt had a total of one month mining experience, all as a superintendent at this operation. He had not received training in accordance with 30 CFR, Part 48.
MSHA was notified at 11:25 a.m. on the day of the accident by a telephone call from the superintendent of construction for the mining company. An investigation was started the same day.
The Phillipsport Pit, a sand and gravel operation, owned and operated by A. Servidone, Inc., was located at Spring Glen, Sullivan County, New York. The principal operating official was Mark Servidone, president. The mine was normally operated one, 8-hour shift a day, five days a week. A total of three persons was employed.
Sand and gravel was extracted with a bulldozer and pushed a short distance to a portable screening plant, which was fed by an excavator. The finished product was stockpiled for use primarily as aggregate in the company's construction business. Some of the material was also sold commercially for use as construction aggregate and cover for land fills. A portable crusher was on-site which was occasionally used to crush oversized material.
The last regular inspection of this operation was completed on December 15, 1999. Another inspection was conducted in conjunction with this investigation.
The accident occurred at the portable screening plant. The plant was a 1995, Ambassador, manufactured in Ireland by Master Skreen. The discharge conveyor belt was 60 inches wide by 42 feet long. The screen and discharge conveyor belt were driven by hydraulic motors powered by a Deutz F4912 diesel engine. The engine was running at about half throttle at the time of the accident.
The return roller involved in the accident was located under the discharge conveyor belt, approximately 6 feet, 8 inches from ground level. It could be accessed by climbing onto a steel plate which covered the dual wheels of the screening plant. The steel plate was 9 feet long and 4.5 feet wide. The distance from the roller to the top of the steel plate was approximately 3 feet. The roller was 63 inches long and 5 inches in diameter. Approximately 1 inch of hardened mud and debris had built up on the roller.
The screening plant had been delivered from the company's maintenance shop to the mine on March 15, 1999. It was set up the following day and operated about five hours. On March 17, the plant ran for about eight hours of normal production.
The bar used to clean the roller was 64 inches long and was constructed by inserting a 4-inch wide metal blade into a 1-inch diameter steel pipe.
The victim was not wearing a hard hat. A baseball-type cap, which he probably wore, was found nearby. Weather conditions at the time of the accident were clear, sunny, and the temperature was approximately 45 Fahrenheit.
On the day of the accident, Charles Hewitt (victim) reported for work at 6:25 a.m., his regular starting time. He spoke momentarily with Andrew Evanyke, equipment operator, about work to be done during the shift. James Rainey, mechanic, approached the two men and told them that the plant's grizzly and tail section needed cleaning to prevent material from freezing on it overnight. Hewitt told Rainey that he would clean the plant and that it would not be operated that day because they were too short-handed. Rainey then went to work on the crusher while Hewitt went to the screening plant with a shovel to clean around the tail pulley.
At about 8:50 a.m., Hewitt talked to Blake Muthig, security consultant, and then went to the storage shed for a bar to clean the mud and debris from the rollers under the discharge conveyor on the portable plant. Evanyke talked with Hewitt just prior to 9:00 a.m. and suggested that he have someone else clean around the screen plant. Hewitt stated that it was a nice day and that he would do it. Hewitt started the plant and then three trucks pulled up to be loaded, blocking Evanyke's view of Hewitt.
After the trucks were loaded and the last one left area, Evanyke saw Hewitt's feet dangling from the screening plant conveyor. Knowing something was wrong, he immediately went to Hewitt's aid. Hewitt was wedged up to his chest between the roller and the conveyor framework, and was pinned there by the metal bar he had been using to clean the roller. Evanyke shut off the diesel engine, then summoned Muthig who checked Hewitt but found no life signs.
Muthig called the State Police and local coroner. The bracket retaining the roller was disassembled in order to free Hewitt. The county coroner pronounced him dead at scene a short time later. The cause of death was attributed to mechanical asphyxiation.
The primary cause of the accident was manually cleaning the roller while the conveyor was in motion. Failure to guard the return rollers, examine the screening plant for hazardous conditions, and promptly correct such conditions were contributing factors.
Order No. 7707596 was issued on March 18, 1999, under provisions of Section 103 (k) of the Mine Act:
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on March 18, 1999, when the superintendent was caught in a return idler on the plant discharge conveyor. This order is issued to assure the safety of persons at this operation and prohibits any work in this area until MSHA determines that its safe to resume normal operations as determined by an Authorized Representative of the Secretary of Labor. The mine operator shall obtain approval from an authorized representative for all actions to recover and/or restore operations in the effected area.
This order was terminated on April 22, 1999. The portable screening plant involved in the accident was returned to the equipment distributor from whom it was purchased. Normal mining operations can resume.
Citation No.7716911 was issued on April 8, 1999, under the provision of Section 104 (d)(1) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.14202:
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on March 18,1999, when the plant superintendent was caught in an unguarded return roller on the discharge conveyor from the portable screening plant. He was cleaning the roller while the conveyor was running. Cleaning the roller while the belt was running exhibited a serious lack of reasonable care constituting more than ordinary negligence and is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory safety standard.
This citation was terminated on April 22, 1999, after the mine operator held a safety meeting with all employees to instruct them on the requirements of standard 56.14202, and to specifically prohibit the manual cleaning of conveyor components while conveyors are in motion.
Order No. 7716912 was issued on April 8, 1999, under the provisions of Section 104(d)(1) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.14107(a)
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on March 18, 1999, when the plant superintendent was caught in an unguarded return roller on the discharge conveyor from the portable screening plant. Two return rollers and the tail pulley were not guarded. Failure to guard these moving machine parts is a serious lack of reasonable care constituting more than ordinary negligence and is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory standard.
This order was terminated on April 22, 1999, when the portable screening plant involved in the accident was returned to the equipment distributor from whom it was purchased. If the plant is replaced, the mine operator assured that the new one will comply with standard 56.14107(a). The mine operator also held a safety meeting with all employees to instruct them on the requirements of this standard.
Order No. 7716913 was issued on April 8, 1999, 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 operation on March 18, 1999, when the plant superintendent was caught in an unguarded return roller on the discharge conveyor from the portable screening plant. Two return rollers and the tail pulley were not guarded. The mine operator failed to examine the portable screening plant for hazardous conditions and promptly initiate action to correct such hazardous conditions. Failure to examine this work place and initiate action to correct hazardous conditions is a serious lack of reasonable care constituting more than ordinary negligence and is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory safety standard.
This order was terminated on April 22, 1999, after the mine operator implemented measures to assure that a competent person will examine each workplace and promptly correct all hazardous conditions found.
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
PERSONS PARTICIPATING IN THE INVESTIGATION
A. Servidone Inc.
Blake Muthig, security consultant
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Randall L. Gadway, supervisory mine safety and health inspector
William C. Jensen, mine safety and health inspector
John M. Sylvester, mine safety and health inspector
Stanley J. Michalek, P.E. civil engineer
Steven Vamossy, civil engineer