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Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health

Report of Investigation

Surface Nonmetal Mine
(Sand and Gravel)

Fatal Machinery Accident

January 21, 2002

Fort Collins Plant
Aggregate Industries West Central Region, Inc.
Fort Collins, Larimer County, Colorado
ID No. 05-04733

Accident Investigators

Steve I. Pilling
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Dale D. Teeters
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Barbara J. Renowden
Mine Safety and Health Specialist

Stephen B. Dubina, Jr.
Electrical Engineer

Originating Office
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Rocky Mountain District
P.O. Box 25367 DFC
Denver, CO 80225-0367
Irvin T. Hooker, District Manager


On January 21, 2002, Kenneth M. Allinder, front-end loader operator, age 51, was fatally injured when he became entangled in the log washer he was working on.

The accident occurred because of the failure to require the power switch for the log washer to be locked out and tagged.

Allinder had a total of six weeks mining experience all at this operation. Allinder completed new miner training on January 2, 2002, in accordance with 30 CFR, Part 46.


Fort Collins Plant, a sand and gravel operation, owned and operated by Aggregate Industries West Central Region, Inc., was located in Fort Collins, Larimer County, Colorado. The principal operating official was James M. Addams, president. The mine was normally operated one, 10-hour shift a day, five days a week. Total employment was six persons.

Sand and gravel was extracted from the pit with a front-end loader. Material was transferred by conveyor belt to the primary crusher, sized and stockpiled. The finished product was used primarily as road construction aggregate.

Fort Collins Plant was a new mine that had commenced mining on January 1, 2002. The first regular inspection of this mine was conducted at the conclusion of this investigation.


On the day of the accident, Kenneth M. Allinder (victim) reported for work at 7:00 a.m., his normal starting time. Allinder's assigned task was to load customer trucks as they came into the pit. The plant did not operate the morning of the accident due to frozen material. The plant was started about 12:15 p.m., and was operated until 4:40 p.m. After the plant was shut down, Fidel M. Hernandez, plant operator, and Jay D. Kennedy, laborer, started draining the log washer, while Allinder and Jim M. Carroll, loader operator, fueled and greased their loaders. Allinder and Carroll assisted to help drain the water lines and shovel around the plant conveyor belts when they finished servicing their loaders.

Allinder proceeded to the log washer to help Kennedy who was working to unplug the blocked drain valve. While Kennedy was positioned on the ground pushing a bar into the drain, Allinder climbed up the portable ladder and stepped inside the log washer trying to clear debris away from the valve with a shovel.

Gary D. Hansen, plant manager for Allied Portable Crushing & Recycling LLC, was at the site to assist in calibrating a conveyor belt scale. Hansen and Kelvin R. Meyer, plant manager, had just installed a 110-volt cord in the control room to provide power for the calibration. Meyer was standing next to the plant control panel looking for the calibration book, and accidentally contacted the start button for the log washer.

As the log washer started, Kennedy ran towards the control room, yelling for the log washer to be shut off. Meyer heard Kennedy yelling and ran to see what was wrong. Hansen then noticed two control switches in the on position and shut them off.

Meyer was the first to arrive at the log washer and found Allinder entangled in the log washer paddles. Emergency assistance arrived within ten minutes of the accident and Allinder was pronounced dead at the scene. Death was attributed to massive trauma injuries.


MSHA was notified at 6:45 p.m., on the day of the accident by a telephone call from Albert Quist, safety manager, to Richard R. Laufenberg, 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 miners.

MSHA's accident investigation team traveled to the mine, made a physical inspection of the accident site and equipment involved, interviewed persons, and reviewed documents relative to the job being performed by the victim. The investigation was conducted with the assistance of mine management, mine employees, and the Colorado State mine inspector. The miners did not request nor have representation during the investigation.


  • The accident occurred at the Eagle Iron Works twin sand log washer, Serial No. 16329, Model No. BM-D30650, that was located next to a mobile crushing unit. The mobile crushing unit received coarse material from a primary crusher. A portion of material from the mobile crushing unit was delivered to the log washer. The log washer cleaned the material and delivered it back into the system. The log washer had two main shafts turning in opposite directions of each other, at a maximum speed of 26 revolutions per minute. The log washer drive motor was manufactured by Baldor and was rated at 200 horsepower. The motor delivered power to the log washer through a speed reducing gearbox. The motor was powered by a trailer-mounted, Caterpillar generator. The control trailer for the entire plant was located on the opposite side of the mobile crusher.

  • The log washer was 8 feet 5 inches wide, 35 feet long, and 4 feet 5 inches deep. At the drain end, it was mounted 2 feet off the ground, and inclined to a height of 10 feet 5 inches off the ground at the discharge end. The water drain was a 4 inch gate valve and was approximately 2 feet 5 inches off the ground. When the temperature was expected to drop below freezing during the night, the log washer and all water lines had to be drained at the end of each shift to prevent frozen material from accumulating in the log washer and associated water lines.

  • The electrical control console panel for the plant was located in the control trailer. The trailer was provided with windows in the front that permitted the operator to view parts of the plant. However, the drain area of the log washer could not be seen from the control trailer as the mobile crushing unit blocked its view. The control panel was mounted at an angle on the front wall of the control trailer, with the lowest part being about 29 inches off the floor. The work table, where the calibration book was kept, was located 4 inches to the right of the control panel and higher than the start button for the log washer. Accessing the corner of the work table required reaching over the control panel. The control panel was powered by 110 volt power, and each circuit was energized with a push button for starting and stopping plant equipment. The start/stop button for the log washer was located on the lower right portion of the console. Plant equipment could be started from this control panel by simply depressing the appropriate start button.

  • Two trailer-mounted, Caterpillar generators provided power to the plant. One of the generators provided power to the primary crusher, log washer, and conveyor belt feeding the mobile crushing unit. The other generator provided power to the rest of the plant.

  • The main disconnect box for the log washer was mounted on the outside of the control trailer; on the side nearest the log washer (approximately 30 feet away). This box, manufactured by Benshaw, Inc., was a solid-state, reduced voltage motor controller, that permitted a soft start for the electric motor. The disconnecting was done with a 400 ampere, manually operated circuit breaker. The log washer could be started or stopped from this location. At the time of the accident, neither the main disconnect switch nor the motor-generator which powered the system were deenergized or locked out.


    The failure to require that electrical disconnect switches were locked out and tagged prior to performing clean up maintenance on plant machinery was the root cause of the accident.


    Order No. 7943948 was issued on January 21, 2002, under the provisions of Section 103(k) of the Mine Act:
    A fatal accident occurred at this operation on January 21, 2002, when a miner was caught in a coarse material scrubber causing fatal injuries. This order is issued to ensure 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 operations.
    This order was terminated on January 25, 2002. The conditions and practices that contributed to the accident no longer exist.

    Citation No. 7914267 was issued on January 22, 2002, under the provisions of Section 104(d)(1) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.12016:
    A fatal accident occurred at this operation on January 21, 2002, when a front-end loader operator climbed into the log washer to unplug the drain. The log washer was accidentally started within the control room when an employee reached over the control console to get some calibration books. Failure to ensure that the electrically powered equipment was locked out and tagged before working on it constitutes more than ordinary negligence in that the leadman and plant manager knew the employees were working on this equipment. This violation is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory standard.
    This citation was terminated on January 25, 2002. The entire crew was retrained in the proper procedures of locking out and tagging equipment to be worked on.

    Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
    Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon FAB02M04


    Persons Participating in the Investigation

    Aggregate Industries West Central Region, Inc.
    Kelvin R. Meyer .......... plant manager
    Richard L. Holmes .......... safety department manager
    Albert D. Quist .......... safety manager
    James J. Gonzales .......... company attorney
    Colorado State Mine Inspector
    Joseph A. Samek .......... mine safety trainer
    Mine Safety and Health Administration
    Steve I. Pilling .......... mine safety and health inspector
    Dale D. Teeters .......... mine safety and health inspector
    Stephen B. Dubina, Jr. .......... electrical engineer
    Barbara J. Renowden .......... mine safety and health specialist


    Persons Interviewed

    Aggregate Industries West Central Region, Inc.
    Kelvin R. Meyer .......... plant manager
    Jay D. Kennedy .......... laborer
    Fidel M. Hernandez .......... plant operator
    Jim M. Carroll .......... front-end loader operator
    Allied Portable Crushing & Recycling LLC
    Gary D. Hansen .......... plant operator