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Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health


Surface Nonmetal Mine

Fatal Drowning Accident
October 3, 2000

County Line Quarry, Inc.
County Line Quarry, Inc.
Wrightsville, York, Pennsylvania
ID No. 36-00129

Accident Investigators

Dale R. St. Laurent, P.E.
Supervisory Mining Engineer

James E. Goodale
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Stanley J. Michalek, P.E.
Supervisory Civil Engineer

Christopher J. Kelly
Civil Engineer

Wayne M. Colley
Mechanical Engineer

William E. Slusser
Mine Safety and Health Specialist

Originating Office
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Northeastern District
547 Keystone Drive, Suite 400; Warrendale, Pennsylvania 15086-7573
James R. Petrie, District Manager


On October 3, 2000, William F. Livelsberger, Jr., front-end loader operator, age 43, drowned when he fell off a pump platform that was suspended over water by a hydraulic crane. He was not wearing a personal flotation device.

The accident occurred because management failed to ensure that the employees were wearing personal flotation devices where there was a hazard of falling into water. Failure to provide the elevated platform with handrails and toeboards were contributing factors.

Livelsberger had a total of eight years mining experience, all with this company. Although he had received training in accordance with Part 46, the company's training plan was deficient.


County Line Quarry, Inc., a surface quartzite mine, owned and operated by County Line Quarry, Inc., was located at Wrightsville, York County, Pennsylvania. The principal operating official was John Smeltzer, quarry superintendent. The mine normally operated one, 10-hour shift a day, 5 to 5 1/2 days a week. Total employment was 26 persons.

Quartzite rock was extracted from the multiple bench quarry and transported by truck to the plant where it was crushed, screened, and stockpiled. The finished product was sold for construction aggregate.

The last regular inspection at this operation was completed on May 19, 2000. A regular inspection was conducted at the conclusion of this investigation.


On the day of the accident, William Livelsberger (victim) arrived at the mine at about 3:45 a.m. He worked on repairing a crusher until the usual 6:00 a.m. crew meeting. During the meeting, John Smeltzer assigned Livelsberger to assist him in pumping water out of the lower sump pit. After the meeting, Smeltzer drove the Grove crane to the pit while Livelsberger followed in Smeltzer's pickup truck. The pump platform was located on the north bench above the lower sump pit where it had been used the previous week. Smeltzer set up the crane on the bench and Livelsberger fastened the crane hook to the platform.

Livelsberger directed Smeltzer as he lifted the pump platform off the bench, swung it over the pit edge, and lowered it to approximately 3 to 4 feet above the water in the sump. The platform was positioned near a flat rock that was on a muckpile near the edge of the water. After the platform was lowered, Livelsberger drove the hydraulic excavator into the water near the muckpile so he could step from the excavator's tracks onto the muckpile without getting wet. Meanwhile, Smeltzer had shut down the crane and walked to the pit edge to observe Livelsberger.

Smeltzer watched as Livelsberger stepped from the flat rock onto the platform and began the starting sequence for the pump. Livelsberger had finished priming the pump and was starting the pump motor when a passing haul truck driver flashed his lights to notify Smeltzer that he had a radio call. Smeltzer walked a few yards to his truck and talked for a short time. He noticed the pump discharge hose had expanded and believed the pump was operating. At about 6:45 a.m., he walked back toward the pit edge. He did not see Livelsberger, but observed his hard hat floating in the water near the platform. He called out to Livelsberger, and after receiving no response, called on his truck radio for help. Smeltzer then drove down to the pit to look for Livelsberger. After workers started arriving to the area, he drove back up to the bench, started the crane, lifted the platform out of the pit, and set it back on the bench. Workers tried wading into the water but it was too deep and cold. Rescue personnel were called at 6:53 a.m. and arrived on the scene within a few minutes. Divers recovered Livelsberger's body at 7:53 a.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the coroner. Death was attributed to drowning.


MSHA was notified at 7:40 a.m., on the day of the accident, by a telephone call from George Harlacher, safety and lab employee of County Line Quarry, Inc., to Charles W. McNeal, supervisory mine safety and health inspector. An investigation was started the same day. An order was issued pursuant to Section 103(k) of the Mine Act to ensure the safety of the miners until the affected area could be returned to normal operations. MSHA's accident investigative team traveled to the mine site, and with the assistance of the State of Pennsylvania, District Mining Operations, made a physical inspection of the accident site, interviewed personnel, and reviewed records related to training and the job task performed by the victim. The miners did not request, nor have, representation during the investigation.

� The lower sump pit collected water from surface runoff, cement trucks being washed out, and an underground spring. In order to work at the lower sump pit, the collected water needed to be removed on a regular basis. A sump was excavated into the floor of the lower sump pit and a pump was used to remove the water. The water was pumped from the sump through a hose that ran up the highwall and along the main production level to a sump in another part of the quarry. The pump was mounted on a single platform that when in operation was suspended immediately above the surface of the water by a crane located on the north bench. The platform was constructed by company personnel during May and June 2000, specifically to be lowered into various sumps by a crane.

� The crane used to lower the platform was a Grove model number TM275LP with a rated capacity of 30 tons. The day before the accident, the victim moved a large pile of rocks with the Link Belt tracked excavator to create an area from which to access the suspended platform. A large, flat rock on this pile was used to step onto the platform. This rock was located approximately 11 feet from the highwall. The distance from the top of the highwall to the water level was approximately 31.5 feet and the depth of the water was approximately 9 feet at the base of the highwall.

� The pump platform was approximately 6 feet wide and 9 feet 8 inches long. The floor frame of the platform was a rectangular construction comprised of steel beams. The surface of the platform consisted of a 3/16-inch thick steel plate that was welded on top of the platform frame. Additional steel beams were welded to the platform to create a lift frame. The lift point was located approximately 3 feet 6 inches from the engine side of the platform. The platform was suspended from the crane hook by a chain. The chain was looped through a plate fixture welded to the middle of the lift frame.

� Although the platform was used in a suspended position, it did not have handrails or toeboards. The victim was not wearing a safety belt, safety harness, or a personal flotation device, and personnel reported that they had never worn these devices while working on the suspended platform. It was also reported that the surface of the platform was typically wet during operations. Accumulated oils, grease and fuel oil were observed over a portion of the platform surface. The smooth steel plate used as the surface of the platform was not provided with any kind of slip resistant material. No type of lighting system was on the platform.

� The equipment mounted on the pump platform consisted of a pump, a diesel engine with drive belts and fuel tank, inlet and outlet hoses, a priming pump, and an outlet valve. The pump was a Gorman-Rupp, horizontal, centrifugal pump, model number 66B2-B. The pump was driven by a General Motors, 87-horsepower diesel engine, model number 4A-28210, that had a 75-gallon fuel tank. The fuel tank was located under the floor of the platform beneath the engine. The inlet and outlet hoses were rubber with an inside diameter of 6 inches. The outlet valve was a 6-inch Jenkins gate valve. The arrangements of the equipment on the platform was such that the operator needed to step between and over pipes and the pump in order to start the engine, adjust the throttle and engage or disengage the clutch.

� The weight of the platform with the fuel tank full was calculated to be approximately 2.3 tons and approximately 2.0 tons with the fuel tank empty. When viewed from the pump outlet, the engine and fuel tank were located behind the platform's lift point and all other equipment was in front of the platform's lift point. When suspended, the pump platform leaned toward the pump outlet end whether there was water in the hose or not. An analysis of the weight distribution of the equipment on the platform confirmed that the platform would lean in such a manner. When the pump platform was suspended, the discharge end of the pump would swing and turn towards the highwall where the discharge hose was located.

� Pump starting procedure consisted of the following steps: (1) lower pump so that the intake hose was as deep in the water as possible, which normally placed the floor of the platform about 3 to 4 feet above the water; (2) access the platform; (3) make sure discharge valve was closed; (4) use Protek priming pump handle about 20 times to prime pump; (5) spray ether into intake air filter of the diesel engine drive motor; (6) step over pump line to center of platform, reach around the air filter and clutch housing, pull out the choke, and push the motor start button (the motor throttle was locked into position); (7) after motor was warmed up and running smoothly, then engage the clutch to the pump; (8) open discharge valve (turns required depended on distance and height water was pumped); and (9) pump sometimes required additional priming or re-engaging of clutch.

� The victim's hard hat and liner were found floating in the water and recovered by rescue personnel. The hard hat showed the following areas of apparent recent damage: a linear-vertical crack and hole in the right front corner; a curved penetrating crack in the left rear of the hard hat where it appeared that the surface of the hard hat was struck against a sharp edge; and, numerous surface gouges and scratches on the top of the hard hat. Inspection of the liner and hat showed that the liner pulled on its attachment sockets and broke it. Company personnel reported that the victim wore his hard hat backwards, with the bill facing the rear.

� Although the immediate cause of death was attributed to drowning, the victim also had a contusion on his left shoulder and a hematoma on the left rear of his head.

� Due to the rotation of the pump and movement of water through the inlet and outlet lines, some movement of the platform would be expected when it is suspended. Company personnel reported that the platform did not move appreciably when the pump was engaged. It is also unlikely that the suspended pump platform would have moved or significantly swayed due to the victim's body weight when he stepped on or off the platform.

� The Grove crane was inspected during the investigation and all functions were within normal operational parameters.

� Some loose rocks were observed on the highwall by the discharge hose.

� Water temperature in the sump was measured at 52 Fahrenheit. Weather conditions at the time of the accident were clear and cool with dew reported on windshields and equipment surfaces.

� On the day of the accident, sunrise was at 7:06 a.m.


The root cause of the accident was the failure of the company to ensure that employees were wearing personal flotation devices. A contributing factor was the failure to provide handrails and toeboards on the suspended pump platform. It could not be determined how the contusion on the victim's head and the damage to his hard hat had occurred. It also could not be determined what had caused him to fall.


Order No. 7727348 was issued on October 3, 2000, under the provision of Section 103(k) of the Mine Act:
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on October 3, 2000, when the loader operator fell off the pump platform suspended over a temporary sump area. The victim fell from the platform, into the water. This order is issued to assure the safety of persons at this operation until the mine or affected areas can be returned to normal operations as determined by an Authorized Representative of the Secretary. The mine operator shall obtain approval from an Authorized Representative for all actions to recover persons, equipment and or return affected areas of the mine to normal.
This order was terminated on October 11, 2000. Conditions that contributed to the accident have been corrected and normal mining operations can resume.

Citation No. 7727349 was issued under the provisions of Section 104(d)(1) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.15020.
A fatal accident occurred on October 3, 2000, when an employee fell into the water and drowned. The victim was not wearing a life jacket. He had been on a pump platform suspended approximately four feet above the water. The water was about nine feet deep with a temperature of 52 Fahrenheit. The pump was suspended from a 35-ton Grove crane that was operated by the supervisor. Management engaged in aggravated conduct constituting more than ordinary negligence in that the victim was allowed to work without a life jacket where there was a hazard of falling into the water. This violation is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory standard.
The citation was terminated on November 3, 2000, after the company sent a letter to MSHA stating life jackets will be worn when working around water. A safety meeting was held explaining fall and water hazards.

Order No. 7727350 was issued under the provision of Section 104(d)(1) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.11027.
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on October 3, 2000, when an employee fell into the water and drowned. Handrails were not provided on the pump platform suspended about four feet above the water and rocks. A slip, trip or fall hazard existed on this platform whenever an employee had to start the engine and pump. It was a common practice to mount the platform to start the engine. A supervisor was operating the Grove crane that was hooked to and suspended the platform. Management engaged in aggravated conduct constituting more than ordinary negligence in that the victim was allowed to work on the elevated platform without providing handrails to prevent him from falling off the platform. This violation is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory standard.

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon FAB2000M40


A. Persons Participating in the Investigation

B. Persons Interviewed


Persons Participating in the Investigation:

County Line Quarry, Inc. Raymond H. Smeltzer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . maintenance foreman
John M. Smeltzer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .supervisor
H. Edmund Kline. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .vice president Highway Materials, Inc. William J. Cummings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vice president State of Pennsylvania District Mining Operations Thomas N. Flannery. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . supervisory inspector
Mark R. Mathews. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .state inspector Mine Safety and Health Administration Dale R. St. Laurent. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . supervisory mine safety and health inspector
James E. Goodale. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . mine safety and health inspector
Kenneth A. Amati. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . mine safety and health inspector
Stanley J. Michalek. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . civil engineer
Christopher J. Kelly. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .civil engineer
Wayne M. Colley. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . mechanical engineer
William E. Slusser. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . training specialist U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor Anne B. Gwynn
Donald K. Neely

Persons Interviewed:

County Line Quarry Inc. John M. Smeltzer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . supervisor
Raymond H. Smeltzer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . maintenance foreman
Timothy J. Smeltzer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . truck driver
Christopher J. Corkum. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . maintenance
Tracy A. Gemmill. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . maintenance