MSHA releases report on fatality involving falling, sliding materials

| Published on May 28, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 3.36.00 PMThe Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has released the investigation report on a Feb. 28, 2014, fatality at a sand and gravel operation involving a 50-year-old supervisor/safety director with 27 years of experience who was killed when, at a backfill site, he approached an 80-foot-high bank that failed and engulfed him.

According to the report, the victim traveled to the mine’s reclamation dump site with another miner to investigate a report of smoke sighted in the area. He parked his truck and began climbing an embankment. After he climbed about 40 feet, the embankment failed and engulfed him.

Click here to read MSHA’s best practices for bank and slope safety.

According to the investigation report, MSHA identified the root cause of the accident to be that “[m]anagement failed to establish methods to maintain the slope stability at the reclamation dump site where miners worked or traveled in performing their assigned tasks.”

Following the fatality, operation management implemented the following corrective action: “[m]anagement modified the reclamation plan at the mine to include using additional material fill to form a flatter slope which can be maintained using a dozer.  In addition, management abandoned the lower access road by permanently blocking the east and west approaches to the roadway.  These revisions eliminate the need for persons to travel near the base of the slope.”

MSHA issued and one order and one citation to the operation following the accident.

The order was issued on Feb. 28 under the provisions of Section 103(j) of the Mine Act “to prevent the destruction of any evidence which would assist investigating the cause or causes of the accident. It prohibits all activity at the mine site and pit north of the scale house until MSHA has determined that it is safe to resume normal mining operations in this area.”

The first citation was issued under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for a violation of 30 CFR 56.11001. MSHA notes: “The ladder was positioned parallel with the building and the victim was working perpendicular to the ladder, placing his body at an angle to the ladder while performing the work.”

According to the report, MSHA modified the order to Section 103(k). The order was terminated on March 3 once conditions contributing to the accident were corrected.

The citation was issued under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for a violation of 30 CFR 56.3130. MSHA notes: “Mining methods were not used to maintain the slope stability at this reclamation dump site where miners worked or traveled in performing their assigned tasks. The material being used to reclaim the area was a mixture of approximately 70 percent loam and 30 percent mulch. The thickness of the reclamation material over the sand slope was estimated to be between 10 and 20 feet. The reclamation slopes were measured to be about 40 degrees directly adjacent to the failed area. The estimated amount of material displaced during the failure was approximately 1,600 cubic yards.”

To read the full investigation report, click here.

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