DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health
Report of Investigation
Surface Metal Mine
Fatal Powered Haulage Accident
June 1, 2002
Asarco Ray Complex
Hayden, Gila County, Arizona
ID No. 02-00150
Rodney D. Gust
Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Pete O. Gutierrez
Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Hilario S. Palacios
Mine Safety and Health Specialist
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Rocky Mountain District
P.O. Box 25367, DFC
Denver, CO 80225-0367
Irvin T. Hooker, District Manager
On June 1, 2002, Johnnie A. Lucero, tripper conveyor operator, age 32, was fatally injured when he became entangled in a tripper conveyor snub pulley.
The accident occurred because clean-up was being performed adjacent to an unguarded conveyor snub pulley while it was in motion.
Lucero had five years and one month mining experience all at this operation and had three years and seven months experience as a tripper conveyor operator. He had received training in accordance with 30 CFR, Part 48.
Asarco Ray Complex, an open pit copper mine and mill, owned and operated by ASARCO Incorporated, was located in Hayden, Gila County, Arizona. The principal operating official was Genaro Larrea Mota-Velasco, president and chief operating officer. The mine was normally operated three, 8-hour shifts a day, seven days a week. Total employment was 154 persons.
Copper ore was drilled and blasted in the open pit and delivered to the primary crusher circuit by rail. Crushed ore was transported to the mill by conveyor belt. The ore was then milled, concentrated and smelted into copper plates.
A regular inspection of this operation was ongoing at the time of the accident.
On the day of the accident, Johnnie A. Lucero (victim) reported for work at 7:00 a.m., his normal starting time. Lucero preformed his normal duties as a tripper conveyor operator, which consisted of traversing the No. 10 tripper conveyor to monitor the stockpiling of crushed ore over feeders for the mill.
Work proceeded normally until about 1:45 p.m. Lucero was using a shovel to clean spilled material from a steel plate located under the conveyor drive motor. Lucero's shovel inadvertently contacted the pinchpoint of the conveyor's snub pulley, entangling him.
At about 2:00 p.m., Kevin Guzman, acting maintenance supervisor, was driving by the northwest side of the fine ore bin when he observed crushed rock flowing out of a window on the second story of the building. Guzman traveled to area and noticed material building up under the head pulley of the No. 10 conveyor. Guzman knew something was wrong and walked to the south end of the conveyor. He approached the tripper car and noticed material spilling around the conveyor. Guzman pulled the emergency stop cord and radioed Frank Gonzalez, mill shift foreman, and reported the spillage. Gonzalez and Guzman searched the area for Lucero but could not locate him. Realizing Lucero was probably buried under the spillage, a crew started shoveling around the tripper car. Lucero's body was found a short time later just below the east side of the No. 10 conveyor snub pulley.
Lucero was pronounced dead at the scene. Death was attributed to multiple blunt force injuries.
MSHA was notified of the accident at 4:15 p.m., on the day of the accident, by a telephone call from Rex Gennicks, concentrator safety director, 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, Arizona State mine inspectors and the miners' representative.
The accident occurred at the second story of the fine ore bin building.
The equipment involved in the accident was the No. 10 tripper conveyor belt. The tripper car was located over the 7B feeder.
The conveyor belt was 48 inches wide, 907 feet long and traveled at a speed of 400 feet per minute. The head pulley drive motor was a 125 hp, 440 volt General Electric (Model No. 5M6326FAA2) connected to a Philadelphia 3218 type-T gearbox.
The No. 10 tripper conveyor belt was operated remotely by the crusher operator. The tripper conveyor operator manually operated the tripper car.
The center of the unguarded snub pulley, located 6 feet from floor level, was 37 inches in diameter, 54 inches wide, with a 1/2-inch thick rubberized coating. The snub pulley rotated at 41.3 revolutions per minute.
The victim was standing on a steel plate that was 24 inches wide by 39-1/2 inches long. The steel cover (plate) was approximately 1 foot 10 inches from ground level and approximately 2 feet 6 inches to the right of the snub pulley.
The victim was using a square point steel shovel to clean-up spillage adjacent to the unguarded snub pulley.
The following root causes of the accident were the failure to prohibit shoveling spillage near moving machinery and the failure to identify and guard the snub pulley.
The accident occurred because clean-up was performed around an unguarded conveyor pulley while the machinery was not blocked against motion.
Order No. 7948955 was issued on June 1, 2002, under the provisions of Section 103(k) of the Mine Act:
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on June 1, 2002, when a miner became entangled in a conveyor. The miner was operating the No. 10 conveyor, at the tripper section of the conveyor. This order is issued to ensure the safety of all persons at this operation. It prohibits all activity at the No. 10 tripper conveyor until MSHA has determined that it is safe to resume normal mining operations in the area. The mine operator shall obtain prior approval from an authorized representative of the Secretary for all actions to recover and/or restore operations to the affected area.This order was terminated on June 7, 2002. Conditions that contributed to the accident have been corrected and normal mining operations can resume.
Citation No. 6269174 was issued on July 22, 2002, under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.14107(a):
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on June 1, 2002, when a tripper conveyor operator was entangled in the snub pulley of the No. 10 tripper conveyor. There were no guards provided around the snub pulley to prevent contact with the pinchpoint. The unguarded snub pulley was less than seven feet from floor level and was highly visible, and turned at a high rate of speed.This citation was terminated on August 8, 2002. The mine operator provided the proper guarding around the snub pulley.
Citation No. 6269191 was issued on July 22, 2002, under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.14105(a):
A fatal accident occurred at this operation on June 1, 2002, when a tripper conveyor operator was entangled in the snub pulley of the No. 10 tripper conveyor. The victim was cleaning around the snub pulley when the moving conveyor belt and pulley entangled him.This citation was terminated on August 8, 2002. Procedures prohibiting cleaning up material spills near moving machinery were implemented.
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Kim G. Bradshaw ......... safety director, smelterPatton-Boggs, LLP
Rex Gennicks ......... safety director, concentrator
Cole A. Wist ......... attorneyHarding ESE, A MACTEC Company
Johnnie H. Head ......... principal mining engineerState of Arizona
David Hamm ......... chief deputy mine inspectorUnited Steelworkers of America
Glenna S. Davenport ......... deputy mine inspector
Gregory E. Becken ......... deputy mine inspector
Wesley A. Cruea ......... deputy mine inspector
Robert S. Sandoval ......... union representativeMine Safety and Health Administration
Rodney D. Gust ......... mine safety and health inspector
Pete O. Gutierrez ......... mine safety and health inspector
Hilario S. Palacios ......... mine safety and health specialist
Kim G. Bradshaw ......... safety director, smelter
Gary L. Lubers ......... chief metallurgist
Benjamin V. Clingan ......... operations manager
Richard L. Astorga ......... senior maintenance coordinator/planner
Frank L. Gonzalez ......... mill shift foreman
Henry L. Lopez ......... mill shift foreman
James Gutierrez ......... tripper conveyor operator
Eddie Moraga ......... crusher operator helper
Rigoverto Romo ......... crusher clean-up
Leland Sidwell ......... mill operator
Kevin Guzman ......... maintenance mechanic
Robert E. Anderson ......... crusher operator
Abraham Romero ......... filter plant material handler
Roberta L. Evans ......... tripper conveyor operator