February 12, 2018
The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) released its Report of Investigation regarding a fatal injury involving a belt conveyor at a sand and gravel mine. Dillon P. Chesney, a 20-year old plant operator with only 23 weeks of mining experience, was fatally injured on Sept. 5, 2017, while working near an operating belt conveyor at G.S. Materials Inc.‘s Emery Pit in Montgomery County, N.C. He was found beneath the hopper entangled in the tail pulley of the short feed conveyor. The medical examiner attributed the cause of death to multiple blunt force traumas to head and torso.
MSHA’s accident investigation team went to the mine, and with the assistance of the North Carolina Department of Labor and mine management, conducted a physical inspection of the accident scene, interviewed employees, and reviewed training and work procedures relevant to the accident. There were no eyewitnesses to the accident.
Investigators found the tail pulley guard on the floor underneath the conveyor, approximately 6 feet in front of the tail pulley, and learned that both both the tail pulley and head pulley guards had been removed six days prior to the accident to replace the belt and that the operator used the conveyor for production for three days without replacing the guarding. Investigators also found a lightweight, portable, aluminum work platform tipped over backwards with the standing surface facing the opposite direction of the conveyor. It appeared that Chesney appeared had been standing on the platform when the accident occurred, based on the height of the conveyor from the ground. When EMS arrived, they found his feet suspended above the floor approximately 6 inches, and observed a crescent wrench on the floor beneath the conveyor; the tool was bent to the curvature of the drum.
Investigators conducted a root cause analysis and identified the following root causes:
Corrective Action: Management revised the Training Plan and incorporated policies with respect to the use of guarding and provided miners with appropriate training. Additional guarding was also installed.
Corrective Action: Management provided miners with task training in proper workplace examinations, conveyor safety, conveyor guarding, plant operator guidelines, and locking and tagging out requirements and procedures.
Corrective Action: Management introduced comprehensive workplace examination policies related to identifying hazardous conditions and provided training to the miners.