MSHA report on fatal fall at cement works

An MSHA report on a fatal fall at Ash Grove Cement Company, Midlothian, Texas, cement works blames lack of effective barricades and readily visible warning signs for the accident.

Roderick Barnes, a maintenance worker, age 46, was fatally injured on May 10, 2016 at Ash Grove Cement Company, Midlothian, Texas.

The maintenance worker fell 50 feet through an unprotected 3-foot by 4-foot opening in the walkway into the empty slurry tank below

Barnes went to the top of the slurry tank to jog the rake system and fell 50 feet through an unprotected 3-foot by 4-foot opening in the walkway into the empty slurry tank below.

The accident occurred because management’s policies, procedures, and controls failed to adequately ensure that effective barricades and readily visible warning signs were provided where hazards were not immediately obvious; failed to provide protection around openings through which persons may fall, and failed to use fall prevention and protection devices where there was a danger of falling.

Factors Leading to the Accident
There were a number of factors that contributed to the accident. Each one is discussed, separately, below:

Open Hole
On May 2, 2016, SCM per Ash Grove’s instruction, removed a 3’ x 4’ section of floor grating from the platform (Attachment 4) above the #2 Slurry Tank to allow the crane basket to be suspended adjacent to the center column and work to be conducted on the air lines directly below the rake drive.  SCM employees, equipped with fall protection, worked near this open hole and from the suspended man basket below this opening from May 2 to May 3, 2016 without incident.

On May 3, 2016, SCM discussed an additional problem found with the drive unit on the rake system with Ash Grove‘s Maintenance Supervisor, Jason McBride.  It was unclear whether SCM, Ash Grove, or the two working in unison would complete this additional work.  Pending this decision, McBride directed SCM to focus their efforts and attention to repairing the tank walls.  Neither Ash Grove nor SCM used the unprotected open hole, until May 10, 2016, the date of Mr. Barnes’s fatal fall.

Fall Protection
Interviews indicated that each of the SCM employees working on the platform around the # 2 Slurry tank was equipped with and utilized fall protection when around the open hole.  Mr Barnes was found at the bottom of the tank without fall protection on him.  A fall protection harness was found in Barnes’s locker on the other side of the plant.

Barricades and Warning Signs
A view of the opening in the floor was obstructed to those entering the upper level work via the catwalk.  On May 2, McBride directed SCM employees to install a chain and warning tag, provided by Ash Grove, where the elevated catwalk intersected the #2 Slurry Tank platform.
From May 2 to May 10, both Ash Grove and SCM personnel ducked under this chain to gain access to the working area.  The chain, tags and direction Ash Grove provided SCM were not in compliance with requirements of 30 CFR 56.20011,

Training and Experience
Barnes had over 8 years of mining experience, with more than 6 years as a Maintenance Worker.

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