At 3:51 PM on April 13, 1997, a 46-year-old male heavy equipment operator (the victim) was reported missing and presumed drowned when the bulldozer he was operating rolled into an ice covered tailing pond and submerged in 20 feet of water. On April 14, 1997, the Alaska State Troopers (AST) notified the Alaska Division of Public Health, Section of Epidemiology. An investigation involving an Injury Prevention Specialist for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health, Section of Epidemiology ensued on April 15, 1997. The incident was reviewed with Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) officials. AST reports, as well as MSHA reports, were requested. The mining operation in this incident was privately owned and employed 260 workers, including certified bulldozer operators. The mine had been operating since 1995. The victim had worked for the mining operation as a truck driver for nine months preceding the incident. He was currently training to operate the bulldozer involved in this incident. As part of the training, the trainee received a copy of the equipment maintenance and operation manual which he reviewed with an assigned equipment trainer. Subsequently, he had received approximately 18 hours of operator training including instruction with a trainer in the operator's compartment and solo operation adjacent to a second bulldozer of this specific model. All training was documented by the trainer and filed in the trainee's personnel file. The mining operation maintained a written general safety policy and procedure manual with access to manufacturer's maintenance and operation manuals. This was the second fatality for the mining operation. 1. Employers should incorporate a clearly defined entry level curricula into their training program for inexperienced equipment operators. 2. Employers should ensure that all operators receive adequate equipment-specific training and supervision including emergency arrest techniques. 3. The employer should consider implementing a training checklist to ensure all operation and safety aspects have been reviewed with and understood by trainees.
Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-practices; Safety-measures; Traumatic-injuries; Region-10; Work-practices; Work-analysis; Work-environment; Occupational-accidents; Occupational-hazards; Training; Equipment-operators; Mining-industry; Mining-equipment; Surface-mining