On September 20, 2017, a contractor was fatally injured while rappelling within a conditioning tower.  The victim was examining the inside of a 300’ vertical conditioning tower when an object fell from above and struck him in the head. The victim was conscious and transported to a local hospital where he died of his injuries the next day.

Best Practices

  • Remove all loose materials and other hazards before working.
  • Have fall protection and available and ready for use.
  • Check bin atmosphere for oxygen content, combustible gases, and toxic contaminants.
  • Provide adequate lighting.
  • Be sure the person entering the bin is trained in safe entry and confined space procedures.
  • Have standby personnel available to observe and to assist in an emergency.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

On August 3, 2017, a 32-year-old miner with 6 years of mining experience was fatally crushed while he was cutting one end of a metal beam.  He was dismantling a metal structure at a preparation plant when the beam fell on him.

Best Practices

  • Securely block equipment and components against hazardous motion at all times while performing work.
  • Ensure that blocking material is competent, substantial, and adequate to support the load.
  • Require all persons to be positioned where they will not be exposed to hazards.  Do not work in pinch points where inadvertent movement could cause injury.
  • Before beginning work, analyze all tasks, establish safe work procedures, train miners, and eliminate hazards.  Be alert for hazards that may be created while the work is being performed.
  • Monitor all persons to ensure safe work procedures, including safe work positioning, are followed.
  • When possible, do not allow miners to work alone.  If a miner works alone, establish a routine of checking on them.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

On July 20, 2017, a miner was driving wedges into a block of granite in an attempt to break it loose.  A piece of granite weighing 9 tons fell and crushed the victim against the quarry floor.

Best Practices

  • Always conduct examinations of work place to identify loose ground or unstable conditions before work begins and as changing ground conditions warrant.
  • Ensure that the person conducting the examination has the training and experience to recognize potential hazards.
  • Danger off hazardous conditions and prohibit work or travel in areas where hazards from unstable ground have not been corrected.
  • Discuss work procedures and identify all hazards associated with the work to be performed along with the methods to protect personnel.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

On March 14, 2017, an independent owner/operator truck driver, walked behind his raised end-dump trailer, while dumping his load and was engulfed by sand.

Best Practices

  • Conduct pre-operational checks to identify any defects that may affect the safe operation of equipment before it is placed into service.
  • Ensure workers who operate heavy equipment are adequately informed, instructed, trained and supervised.
  • Do not position yourself near a truck that is actively dumping, or near a truck while it is raising its bed.
  • Ensure that the tailgate is unlocked before elevating the cargo box to the dump position.
  • Do not attempt to dump the material if it sticks in the bed.  Stuck material can imbalance the load and affect the stability of the truck. Always deflate trailer air springs prior to raising the dump body.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf), Final Report (pdf).

On December 19, 2016, a 62-year old Front-end Loader Operator with 6 years of mining experience was fatally injured at a sand and gravel surface mine. The victim was engulfed by sand when entered a hopper to remove a blockage.

Best Practices

  • Task train persons to recognize all potential hazardous conditions and to understand safe job procedures for elimination of the hazards before beginning work.
  • Train miners in safe work procedures and hazard recognition, specifically when clearing blocked hoppers.
  • Ensure employees use proper housekeeping procedures in order to avoid extraneous trash from inadvertently entering feed hoppers.
  • Establish and discuss policies and procedures for safely clearing hoppers.
  • Equip hoppers with mechanical devices, grates/grizzlies or other effective means of handling material so persons are not required to work where they are exposed to entrapment by sliding material.
  • Before working on or near equipment, ensure that the discharge operating controls are deenergized and locked out and ensure that material cannot discharge when the feeder is not activated.
  • Wear a safety harness and lanyard, which is securely anchored and tended by another person, prior to entering bins, hoppers, tanks, or silos.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf), MSHA Investigation Report (pdf), Overview (pdf).

On February 26, 2016, a truck driver delivering multiple sections of polyurethane pipe was struck by a section of pipe during the unloading process. A forklift removed two sections of pipe from the passenger side of the truck, and then left the area with the two sections. While the forklift was away, a single, unsecured section of pipe rolled off on the driver’s side of the truck and struck the victim. Each section of pipe was approximately 50’ long and weighed approximately 1,750 pounds. Miners began first aid but the driver was unresponsive. He was transported to the local hospital and later died.

Best Practices

  • Analyze all tasks, identify possible hazards prior and eliminate the risks prior to beginning work.
  • Before beginning work, establish safe work procedures, train and discuss with all persons performing the task.
  • Examine work areas during the shift for hazards that may be created as a result of the work being performed.
  • Evaluate the stability of the material before unfastening a load. Pay particular attention to loads that may have shifted or become unstable during transport.
  • Install secondary supports (side stakes) of adequate height and strength to prevent material from falling when the load is unfastened; or prior to unfastening the material, secure the item being unloaded to the machine used in the unloading process.
  • Stand clear of items of massive weights having the potential of becoming off-balanced while being loaded or unloaded.
  • Implement measures to ensure persons are properly positioned and protected from hazards while performing a task. Ground personnel should be highly visible. Unauthorized persons should be kept clear of the area.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf), MSHA Investigation Report (pdf), Overview (pdf).

m15On August 3, 2015, an 18-year old truck driver (seasonal associate) with 9 weeks experience was killed at a granite mine. The victim backed his truck under a conveyor belt to be loaded. After exiting the truck, the victim entered a door leading underneath the “sand fines silo.” Soon after entering the silo, the structure collapsed burying the victim beneath the falling material.

Best Practices

  • Routinely examine metal structures for indications of weakened structural soundness (corrosion, fatigue cracks, bent/buckling beams, braces or columns, loose/missing connectors, broken welds, spills of stored solids, etc.).
  • Periodic detailed inspections should be performed which examine hopper and wall thicknesses, critical connections such as the hopper to the wall, and the material flow conditions. Both the inside and outside of the structure should be evaluated.
  • Report any changes in the discharge flow pattern which may be a result of an internal obstruction that causes non-uniform pressures on the silo structure.
  • Report all areas where indications of structural weakness are found.
  • Schedule inspections of the silo’s interior surface only when all material has been removed to determine if it has become polished and worn from use.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf), MSHA Investigation Report (pdf), Overview (pdf).

m13On August 3, 2015, a 64-year old miner with 44 weeks experience was killed at a sand and gravel mine. The victim was operating a front-end loader, loading trucks from a stockpile, when he exited the loader. While outside the loader, the approximate 35-foot high stockpile slope failed and engulfed the victim between the stockpile and the loader.

Best Practices

  • Ensure that miners are adequately trained in determining the stability of a stockpile. Any unconsolidated material sloped above its natural angle of repose is, by definition, UNSTABLE and potentially DANGEROUS.
  • Ensure that equipment on site has the capability to trim stockpiles safely.
  • Ensure that equipment is parked in a safe location before exiting the vehicle.
  • Ensure adequate work place examinations are performed and promptly correct hazardous conditions that adversely affect safety and health.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf), MSHA Investigation Report (pdf), Overview (pdf).

m09On June 30, 2015, a 65-year old equipment operator with 19 years of experience was killed at a sand and gravel surface mine. The victim was operating a front-end loader and was removing material from a sand bank when the bank collapsed and engulfed the machine and entered the operator’s cab causing the victim to be asphyxiated.

Best Practices

  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures before beginning work. Identify and control all hazards associated with the work to be performed and the methods to properly protect persons.
  • Task train all persons to recognize all potential hazardous conditions that can decrease bank or slope stability and ensure they understand safe job procedures for elimination of the hazards.
  • Observe and evaluate all pit, highwall, slope, and bank conditions prior to beginning work and throughout the shift to ensure safety. Be especially vigilant for these conditions after each rain, freeze, or thaw.
  • Provide equipment cabs strong enough to resist burial pressure.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf), MSHA Investigation Report (pdf), Overview (pdf).

1On January 8, 2015, a 63-year old sales manager with 11 years of experience was killed at a sand and gravel mine. He was installing new screen panels in the B tower screen. The feeder box pivoted, pinning him between the box and the rear support beam of the screen deck.

Best Practices

  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures. Identify and control all hazards associated with the work to be performed along with the methods to properly protect persons.
  • Always follow the equipment manufacturer’s recommended maintenance procedures when conducting repairs to machinery.
  • Task train all persons to recognize all potential hazardous conditions and understand safe job procedures to eliminate all hazards before beginning work.
  • Securely block equipment and components against hazardous motion at all times while performing work.
  • Ensure that blocking material is competent, substantial, and adequate to support the load.
  • Require all persons to be positioned to prevent them from being exposed to any hazards.  Do not work in pinch points where inadvertent movement could cause injury.
  • Monitor all persons to ensure safe work procedures, including safe work positioning, are followed.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf), MSHA Investigation Report (pdf), Overview (powerpoint), Overview (pdf).