DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health
REPORT OF INVESTIGATION
Surface Nonmetal Mine
Fatal Machinery Accident
April 2, 2001
Kona Cinder & Soil, Inc.
Kona Cinder & Soil, Inc.
Oceanview, Hawaii County, Hawaii
ID No. 51-00235
Supervisory Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Mine Safety and Health Specialist
Mine Safety and Health Administration
2060 Peabody Road, Suite 610
Vacaville, CA 95687
Lee D. Ratliff, District Manager
James W. Mitchell, plant manager/bulldozer operator, age 48, was fatally injured on April 2, 2001, when a highwall collapsed and buried the dozer he was operating.
The accident occurred because mining methods that would maintain wall, bank, and slope stability were not being used.
Mitchell had 16 years mine experience, 28 weeks with this company as plant manager. There was no documentation of Mitchell having received training in accordance with 30 CFR Part 46.
The Kona Cinder & Soil Inc, a surface cinder mine, owned and operated by Charles Harlan, was located at Oceanview, Hawaii County, Hawaii. The mine was 50 miles south of Kailu-Kona Hawaii. The principal operating officials were Charles Harlan, owner, and James W. Mitchell, plant manager and equipment operator. The mine operated one, 10-hour shift a day, five days a week. Total employment was four persons.
Cinders were mined using one Caterpillar D8H bulldozer and a Case 281 front-end loader. The material was pushed to a location near the crusher and then loaded into the feeder by a front-end loader where it was crushed, screened and stockpiled. The finished material was shipped to customers by truck for use as aggregate and fill.
MSHA first became aware of this mine as a result of this accident. A regular inspection was completed in conjunction with the accident investigation.
DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT
On the day of the accident, James W. Mitchell (victim) reported for work at 7:00 a.m., his normal starting time. Mitchell began his normal routine of pushing material from the toe of the highwall. The material was pushed into a pile so it could be hauled from this point to the crusher located close by. Mitchell also loaded the over-the-road trucks and supplied the crusher with material throughout the morning.
At approximately 10:30 a.m., Rudy Kana, truck driver, was returning to the pit for another load when he noticed smoke coming from a pile of cinders below the highwall. Realizing the 80 to 100-foot highwall had collapsed and buried the machine and operator, he rushed to the pile. David Cahill, truck driver, arrived a few minutes later and they both began digging the cinders away from the top of the dozer. They proceeded to dig with their hands until they uncovered the victim. Once they uncovered Mitchell, they performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation until emergency personnel arrived. Mitchell was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. Death was attributed to asphyxiation.
INVESTIGATION OF THE ACCIDENT
MSHA was notified of the accident on April 3, 2001, at 9:17 a.m., by a fax from the Hawaii Tribune to William W. Wilson, assistant district manager. Charles Clark, HI-OSHA compliance officer, started an investigation on April 4, 2001. MSHA's investigation began April 10, 2001 after determining this operation was a mine. An order was issued pursuant to Section 103(k) of the Mine Act to ensure the safety of miners. MSHA conducted an inspection of the accident site, interviewed miners, and reviewed appropriate training and work procedure documents. The miners did not request, nor have a representative during the investigation.
The root cause of the accident was the failure to establish mining methods to maintain wall, bank and slope stability.
ORDER No. 7997087 was issued on April 10, 2001, under the provisions of Section 103(k) of the Mine Act:
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on April 2, 2001, when the highwall collapsed on the operator and the dozer. This order is issued to assure the safety of all persons at this operation until MSHA has determined it is safe to resume normal operations. The mine operator shall obtain approval from an authorized representative for all actions to recover or restore operations to the affected area.
The order was terminated on May 10, 2001, when it was determined by MSHA that the conditions, which contributed to the accident, no longer existed and normal mining operations could resume.
CITATION No. 7997246 was issued on May 2, 2001 under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for a violation of 30 CFR § 56.3130.
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on April 2, 2001, when the mine foreman was buried under a highwall that collapsed. The victim was operating a bulldozer at the toe of the highwall when it failed. Mining methods that would maintain wall, bank and slope stability had not been used.
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Photographs of Mine Site
Appendix C (Map of Mine Site)
Kona Cinder and Soil, Inc.
Charles Harlan .......... presidentState of Hawaii
Department of Industrial Relations
Division of Occupational Safety and Health
Charles Clark .......... state inspectorMine Safety and Health Administration
Larry Larson .......... supervisory mine safety and health inspector
Harvey Brooks .......... mine safety and health inspector
Paul Tyrna .......... geological engineer
John Kathman .......... mine safety and health specialist
Persons interviewed during the investigation:
Kona Cinder and Soil, Inc.
Charles Harlan .......... presidentH.O.V.E Road Maintenance
Jerime Torres .......... truck driver
Johnnie Kane .......... truck driver
Rudolph Kaupu .......... truck driver
Jean Redman .......... executive director