- Written by Mark Kuhar
April 20, 2012 – A 49-year-old excavator operator with approximately 8½ years of experience was injured at a sand and gravel operation. The victim was removing bolts from a counterweight on the back of an excavator when the counterweight fell and struck him. He was hospitalized and died on April 12, 2012, as a result of his injuries. This is the 5th fatality reported in calendar year 2012 in the metal and nonmetal mining industries. As of this date in 2011, there were 3 fatalities reported in these industries. This is the 1st Falling Material fatality in 2012. There was 1 Falling Material fatality in the same period in 2011. MSHA recommends: 1) Before working on or near equipment, establish safe work procedures consistent with the design of the machine. Train all persons to recognize and understand these procedures. 2) Follow the equipment manufacturer's procedures for the work being performed to ensure that all hazards are addressed. 3) Provide adequate task training to persons assigned to perform the work. Utilize assistance from the manufacturer when the equipment incorporates new technology and features. 4) Install blocking materials before removing mounting bolts from machinery components which can fall during disassembly.