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Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health


Underground Nonmetal Mine

Fatal Machinery Accident
August 10, 2000

Bluff City Minerals
Mississippi Lime Company
Alton, Madison County, Illinois
I.D. No. 11-00122

Accident Investigators

Donald J. Foster
Supervisory Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Herbert D. Bilbrey
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

James L. Angel
Mechanical Engineer

Raymond A. Mazzoni
Mechanical Engineer

Leland R. Payne
Mine Safety and Health Specialist

Originating Office
Mine Safety and Health Administration
North Central District
515 West First Street, Room 333
Duluth, MN 55802-1302
Felix A. Quintana, District Manager


On August 10, 2000, Rick Williams, powder man, age 49, was fatally injured when he fell about 60 feet from the elevated basket of a scaling machine. Williams and a co-worker were riding in the basket to evaluate the placement of explosives on a loose corner. The basket became lodged on protruding rocks. Pressure, exerted on the basket, caused the rocks to break away and the basket to lunge upward, ejecting Williams and the co-worker. Williams was not wearing a safety belt and line and fell to the ground. The co-worker was wearing a harness attached to the basket and was uninjured.

The accident occurred because management failed to ensure that safe work procedures were followed while working from the basket. The victim was not wearing a safety belt which contributed to the severity of the injuries.

Williams had a total of 22 years of mining experience, all at this mine. He had received training in accordance with 30 CFR, Part 48.


The Bluff City Minerals mine, an underground, multi-bench, room and pillar limestone operation, owned and operated by Mississippi Lime Company, was located in Alton, Madison County, Illinois. The principle operating officials were: Bruce Giesler, director of operations; Terry Crawford, mine engineer; Kenneth Harmon, underground foreman; and Robert Williamson, surface foreman. The mine was normally operated two, 10-hour shifts, five days a week. Total employment was 62 persons; 25 worked underground.

Limestone was extracted from two benches by drilling and blasting. The top bench was mined at a height of 25 feet followed by the lower bench at a height of 55 feet. The material was loaded with front-end loaders, hauled by truck to the underground crusher, and transported by conveyor to the surface plants, where it was screened, crushed, and stockpiled. The finished products were used in the construction and agricultural businesses.

The last regular inspection of this operation was completed on August 3, 2000.


On the day of the accident, Rick Williams (victim) reported for work at 6:00 a.m., his normal starting time. Williams performed his normal duties throughout the morning. During lunch break, Herbert Miller and William Strebel, manual scalers, asked Danny Phelps, powder man, if he would look at the north corner of the 2W12 panel. Miller and Strebel had been scaling the corner with bars, but were unable to take down all the loose material. If scaling were unsuccessful, the normal procedure was to dig out an area behind the cracked material and place explosives there to remove it.

Phelps told Miller that he would look at the area after lunch. Miller and Strebel continued to scale until about 1:30 p.m. and then sat in the truck cab to wait for Phelps. At about 1:45 p.m., Miller saw a light coming from the top of the bench on the west side of the 2W13 panel. Miller climbed into the basket, attached his harness to one of the two lanyards provided, and moved it up to the bench where Williams was standing. Williams told Miller that Phelps was working on the powder truck and had sent him to check the area. Miller asked Williams where his safety harness was and Williams told him not to worry about it, that he would be all right.

Williams climbed into the basket and Miller moved it across the entry to the corner of the pillar containing loose material. After checking the west side of the corner, Miller was moving the basket to check the east side when it became stuck on rocks protruding from the corner.

The basket was being extended toward the corner and up at the same time when the bottom front corner contacted the protruding rocks. Miller tried to move the basket horizontally away from the corner without success. He then applied pressure upward and the rocks that were restricting the basket broke loose.

When the basket broke free, it lunged upward and ejected Miller and Williams from the basket. Williams fell about 60 feet to the ground. Miller was wearing a safety harness attached to a shock absorbent lanyard and was hanging uninjured from the basket.

Paul Maggos and Doug Hines, truck drivers, responded to the accident. Hines lowered the basket to the ground and they removed Miller from the harness. Maggos drove his truck to the outside supervisor's office and summoned help. Mine employees attended to Williams until the emergency personnel arrived. The Madison County Coroner pronounced Williams dead at the scene. Death was attributed to multiple trauma caused by the fall.


MSHA was notified at 3:15 p.m. on the day of the accident by a telephone call from Kevin Scannel, production clerk, to Fred Tisdale, mine safety and health inspector. An investigation was started the same day and an order was issued pursuant to Section 103(k) of the Mine Act to ensure the safety of miners.

MSHA's accident investigation team conducted a physical inspection of the accident site, interviewed a number of persons, and reviewed training records and work procedures being performed at the time of the accident. The investigation was conducted with the assistance of mine management and mine employees. The miners had representation throughout the investigation.

� The accident occurred at the 2W12 panel on the northeast corner of the active production section of the underground mine. The total height of the corner was about 80 feet. The top 25 feet had been mined years prior to the accident. The remaining 55 feet of bottom bench mining was completed about three weeks prior to the accident.
� The equipment involved in the accident was a 1972 Hi-Ranger Model 10-88-300�, serial number 3724984, personnel elevating platform equipped with a basket. The Hi-Ranger was manufactured by Mobile Aerial Towers, Inc. which is now Terex Telelect. The actual height was 88 feet (maximum ground to bottom of basket distance), with a comfortable working height specification of 93 feet and a maximum horizontal reach of 51 feet. The basket could also rotate through an arc of 300�.
� The Hi-Ranger basket was used to perform manual scaling on the ribs and corners of the bottom bench. At the time of the accident, the scalers were completing the mining cycle in the 2W12 panel. The bench had been drilled, blasted, and loaded out. The final phase was to scale the ribs and corners before advancing into the next panel.
� There was no roof bolting conducted at this mine. Due to the height of the mine roof and ribs after the bottom bench had been removed, the Hi-Ranger was the only machine used to maintain roof and rib control throughout the mine. Reportedly this procedure had been in place for more than 25 years.
� After the bottom bench was removed, an area of protruding rock would often remain on the ribs and corners at about 55 feet where the top of the bottom bench had existed. On occasion, these areas created catch points for the basket of the Hi-Ranger.
� The Hi-Ranger was mounted on a 1947 Model 49FD Euclid truck frame, serial number 49FD6562. The boom was located at the rear of the truck. Four outriggers, two on the left side and two on the right side of the truck, were provided for stability. In this report, "left" refers to the truck driver's side when referring to both the truck and basket. The approximate gross vehicle weight of the Euclid truck and Hi-Ranger personnel elevating basket was 45,000 pounds.
� The truck and the hydraulic pumps for the personnel elevating basket were powered by a Detroit Diesel Model 6-71, 6 cylinder, 426 cubic inch, supercharged, 210 horsepower diesel engine.
� The Hi-Ranger's basket was approximately 30 inches wide, 60 inches long, and 40 inches high, and the frame was constructed of welded 1-1/2 inch steel pipe. Expanded metal extended around the front and sides of the basket from the toeboard up to approximately 6 inches of the top of the platform. Expanded metal, supported by a steel angle, was provided as the floor.
� The basket was held in a level position by four wire rope cables. These cables extended from the basket to the base of the lower boom. This system of cables kept the basket level regardless of the position of the upper or lower boom. These cables would have been heavily loaded when the front of the basket was caught on the rib and the scaler tried to raise it.
� At the time of the investigation, two body harnesses were present in the cab of the truck. A spare harness was not present in the platform. The powder men also had two harnesses in the powder rig for their personal use.
� The basket could be controlled by either a set of lower control levers at the base of the lower boom or a control head assembly in the left side of the basket. The lower controls consisted of a palm button and three levers (to the right of this palm button) that move vertically up and down. The three levers activated closed-center valves.
� Activation of the control levers revealed that they must be moved approximately 1/8 inch before movement of the basket occurred. It was also noted that it took approximately two seconds for the basket to start to move when the controls were activated in a slow and controlled manner. This operation of the controls is not considered to have contributed to the accident.
� Examination and testing of the machine did not identify any operational defects that contributed to the accident. The basket was operated in close proximity to the rib immediately prior to the accident. In this particular application, the irregular rib surfaces and the design of the basket, with open areas immediately above the toeboard, created the potential for the basket to be unintentionally caught by the rib.
� Metal scaling bars, 4 feet in length, were used from the basket. When performing scaling, one person would operate the controls in the basket and watch the roof and ribs, while the other person scaled.
� Due to the height of the boom and the weight of the basket, horizontal movement existed during operation, creating a fall hazard while in the basket.

The root cause of the accident was management's failure to ensure that safe work procedures were followed when maneuvering the basket close to the rib of the mine. Failure to wear a safety belt and line while working in the elevated basket contributed to the severity of the accident.

Order No. 7842855 was issued on August 10, 2000, under the provisions of Section 103(k) of the Mine Act:
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on August 10, 2000, when a powder man fell out of the Hi-Ranger scaling bucket. This order is issued to assure the safety of persons at this operation until the mine or effected areas can be returned to normal mining operations as determined by an authorized representative of the Secretary. The operator shall obtain approval from an authorized representative for all actions to recover persons, equipment, and/or restore operations in the affected area.
This order was terminated on August 14, 2000, when it was determined that conditions that contributed to the accident no longer existed and that normal operations could resume.

Citation No. 7832616 was issued on August 22, 2000, under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for a violation of 30 CFR, Part 57.15005:
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on August 10, 2000, when a powder man fell from the elevated basket of a scaling machine. A safety belt and line was not being worn.
This citation was terminated on August 22, 2000. The company's existing fall protection policy was re-emphasized with the employees. All employees were re-instructed to wear a safety harness and line at all times while in the scaler basket.

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon FAB2000M33


A. Persons Participating in the Investigation

B. Persons Interviewed


Persons Participating in the Investigation:

Mississippi Lime Company - Bluff City Minerals
Bruce F. Giesler . . . . . . . . . . . . director of operations
Kenneth L. Harmon . . . . . . . . . underground foreman
Phil Hartman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .sales and equipment manager
Robert Williamson . . . . . . . . . . surface foreman
Mississippi Lime Company - Ste. Genevieve
Richard L. Donovan . . . . . . . . . safety and health manager
Jeff Gurley . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . .safety manager
Mississippi Lime Company - Corporate
Steven L. Salantai . . . . . . . . . . .vice president business development
Bruce Baggio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vice president human resources
Armstrong Teasdale LLP
John F. Cowling . . . . . . . . . . . . attorney
Laborers, Local No. 414
John K. Hamel . . . . . . . . . . . . . mechanic, miners' representative
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Donald J. Foster . . . . . . . . . . . . supervisory mine safety and health inspector
Herbert D. Bilbrey . . . . . . . . . . .mine safety and health inspector
James L. Angel . . . . . . . . . . . . . mechanical engineer
Raymond A. Mazzoni . . . . . . . . mechanical engineer
Leland R. Payne . . . . . . . . . . . . mine safety and health specialist

Persons Interviewed:

Mississippi Lime Company - Bluff City Minerals
Herbert Miller . . . . . . . . . . . scaler-laborer
Paul Maggos . . . . . . . . . . . . truck driver
William Strebel . . . . . . . . . . .scaler-laborer
Doug Hines . . . . . . . . . . . . . truck driver
Phillander Reed . . . . . . . . . . surface front-end loader operator
John Hamel . . . . . . . . . . . .  .mechanic
Danny . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . .Phelps powder man
Kenneth Harmon . . . . . . . . . underground foreman