[QUOTE=Dozerboy;147547]Why is it that every moron thinks the only way to get an operators attention is to throw a dirt ball at him?
We have to do something to get you off the cell phone and back to work we get tired of standing in the mud leaning on the shovel.
So it's your workers throwing the dirtballs? Make 'em pay, bro. That's outrageous. They think they are pretty cute doing that, don't they?
Learned my lesson a long time ago on this one. I was in the service training with a bunch of guys on a TD24. No cab of course. Come lunchtime the bus came by to pick us up and my squad leader told me to get the fella running the dozer's attention to come on. Well, he didn't respond to anything I did initially, so I picked up a very small clod of dirt to toss on the hood to get his attention. Naturally, The damn thing missed the hood completely and hit him right behind his left ear.
Well that got his instant and full attention all right and here he came to pound on me some. Only problem was he forgot to kick the clutch out and that ole TD24 kept right on chuggin. I think we ran clear round that dozer a half dozen times before he realized what he'd done. Then I had to help him get back on to shut it down, which turned out to be a real circus.
The guys in the bus about died laughing. We didn't live that down for a long time.
back in the 80s I worked at a landfill and I was digging out the end of the trench with a 977L loader. It was around 60' feet wide and 30' deep with straight sides in clay. A guy wanted to get my attention so he tossed a dirt clod, grapefruit size, on the orops only it missed the roof and hit me in the knee. I thought at first the sides were falling in and looked up and saw him apologizing and laughing. not much that I could do except laugh it off and I was glad the sidewalls weren't coming down on me.
I can't believe we used to dig those straight walled trenches that deep with the spoil piled up along the side. The sides did fall in every once in a while usually at night. Nobody ever got buried but there were some close calls. An oldtimer operator looks at me funny when I use a trenchbox in a 6 foot deep trench after his experience in the garbage ditches.
I would like to hear some others opinions and experiences on this.
Tracksfan, back in the bad old days, we used to do a lot of things that would cause a good inspector today to have a heart attack on the spot. In some places, like Kentucky, Virginia, or West Virginia, maybe even Pennsylvania, the coal mines are probably still making high-walls up to 150 feet high or more. These were excavations for coal that went right up to the property line. The better mines would at least try to knock the loose rocks and dirt off the sides as they were digging down, but any rain or frost or even the slightest tremor could make one let go and bury a machine or a hand. I've dug many a machine out from a fall, then had to fix the derned thing.
I remember specifically one night in Kentucky when the beligirent old production foreman at one of the surface mines snuggled his own pickup real close to a high wall to take a nap. The wall collapsed on his truck and he started hollering with his radio for help. We couldn't find him at first for all the dust, finally got him to shut up and turn his lights on. Then we had to use one of the 988 coal loaders to dig him out. It was funny as hell at the time.
We used to dig trenches for sewer and water pipes that were many feet deep and just wide enough for a man to scrape along in. That's a no-no anymore. Gravel pits in many places and stone quarries also excavated straight walls many feet down. Interstate 80-90 passes right over one that is just huge near Chicago that is a classic illustration of this. There are many others scattered all over the country.
Speaking from experience, I would not go into any trench today unless the sides are laid back according to OSHA specs. That's one reason contractors in California and Arizona like illegal labor. Those guys will go anywhere and never say a word. Many of them have died here in the Phoenix area in just the three years I've been here. We read about it all the time in the local rag. Some that didn't die immediately and were dug out had serious leg or other injuries. Just not worth it in today's work world.
In California, the oilfield contractor I worked for had experienced many cave-ins over the years. We held a management meeting on the subject after one bad situation where a worker had not only been trapped up to his knees in a trench, but was badly burned because the mud that trapped him had been superheated by the steam pipe that had been dug out just minutes before. It was decided to completely rethink the way we did trenching on all our projects. Everyone of them had to be looked at by the project manager, one of our safety directors, and the foreman and his crew. A written plan had to be made up with input from everyone, and it had to be posted and signed off by everyone present at that meeting. OSHA regulations concerning trenching and excavations were to be followed to the letter or if possible, done with even tighter restrictions depending on soil conditions, obstructions, and other potential hazards. Trenches were to be fenced or barricaded off and warning signs erected stating the scope of work.
Seems like a lot of work, but it completely eliminated accidents and injuries due to this type of work, and with that mindset taking hold, we extended it to all other work in the company. I even started using such techniques in the shop and with my field people. We took "Safety First" to a whole new level, and it paid off big time in terms of reduced accidents and injuries, less down time, and lower worker comp rates. I'd recommend this approach to anyone.
surfer-joe, heck of a way for that forman to wake up.
good post, I hadn't thought of the steam pipe heating the ground around it.
Changeing the mindset is key, lets all work safe
Because most of the oil in the Kern County oilfields is very thick, almost a tar, it's been found that steam injection works very well to thin it out, make it flow, and become pumpable to the surface. Unfortunately, working with live steam systems is very hazardous and must be done under tight supervision and strictest precautions for safety and proper procedures. Live steam is colorless and ordinarily can not be seen. Also, if a pipe has a dip in it, steam may condense in the dip and then, when one end of the pipe or the other is opened, sometimes there is just enough steam pressure left to push that extremely hot condensate out amidst a working crew. It’s bad news for anyone getting splashed.
We thought we had adequate procedures in place, but we still had people getting hurt, so it was back to the drawing board to examine what we were doing, what had happened, and what we could come up for future situations that involved working on live steam systems. For whatever reason, we had not thought about the fact that steam pipes or leaks also heat the soil around the pipe too. Because of that, we did not train our people to look for and expect it to be a hazard to be noted. It is now.
This same logic can be applied to pipes carrying toxic chemicals as well, even milder one’s such as copper or gold slurry’s or tailing water. There is a lot of acid in that stuff and you don’t want it on your skin. Any excavation around tailing ponds for repairs to old pipes and installation trenches for new installations can be hazardous.
This was a little off subject, so lets get back to that.
At a surface coal mine in Kentucky one day, everything seemed to be going well. I was half snoozin in my pickup, listening on the CB radio as the usual gang of our moron operators insulted each other on their radios. This was a continuous chatter that started as soon as they got in their machines at the beginning of the shift and went on all day. It could and often did get very raunchy.
Anyways, I heard one of the blast-hole drillers let out a scream and then his radio cut off. Now our drillers often worked on a bench alone with no one around. The hole positions were all marked out for them by the blast crew and so they would drill like crazy, and fill in the time to the next stem change by challenging the mother or fatherhood of one of their buddies. Often the holes would run right up to the edge of the highwall, and sometimes rocks, dirt, small trees and bushes and snakes or other critters would fall off onto the rig. I guess that about the tallest highwall at that mine was about 900 feet.
This time was a little different. The hole positions were right up at the edge of the high wall, so the driller had to position his drill straight on. Normally they would drill parallel to the wall, with the cab positioned on the side away from the wall. But he couldn’t with this set of holes. So he was punching them out and going right along. He was one of our better drillers and his machine was a decent rig compared to some of our others.
Well, after that one scream, naturally the other operators started checking on each other to see what the fuss was about. Everybody seemed to be OK, but one of the hands finally noticed that the driller wasn’t answering up. The superintendent knew where he was supposed to be and he headed over to that bench to see what was up. It was about a mile away and sorta around a bend so we couldn’t see him from where we were. It took the Super about five minutes to get round there, and he immediately hollered for one of the 992’s to get over there quick. All he could see was the tip of the drill mast and about half of the front of the machine.
It turned out that a huge chunk of the highwall had come loose and slammed down on top of the drill rig, burying the cab, dust collector, the back of the engine, and the draw works. The operator was trapped in the cab, where the glass on the back window and draw works side had busted in and the dirt and rocks buried him up to his neck. He had one arm and hand free, but all the controls were buried and the engine had shut down anyway. He couldn’t move.
992’s don’t move very fast, but that one was floor-boarded all the way over and the Super was coaching the operator all the way, telling him just what he wanted him to do. That consisted of shoveling out the cab door side of the machine very carefully so the Super and a couple of other people including myself could get in there and pry open the door. I had to get a big pry-bar out of my pickup and the Super had a slate-bar. Between the two of us we got the door open and there sat our operator, gasping for air. He looked like a frosted cone from all the dust that was caked on him, and he couldn’t talk at all, just sorta grunted.
We hurriedly dug him out with our hands and laid him in the shade. The loader operator (his brother in law) washed him up a bit and in a few minutes, he was able to breathe alright and he started talking. Couldn’t get him to shut up for a minute. The Super loaded him up in his pickup and headed to town to get a doctor to see him. I was left standing there with two of my mechanics and directions from the Super to see if I could get the rest of the machine unburied and ready for the night shift, then about three hours off.
I sent one mechanic that could operate a little to fetch a 988 coal loader that wasn’t being used at the moment. The other one and I then dug the rest of the dirt and stuff out of the cab. When the loader arrived, we dug the other side out some, then after digging around the draw-works, mast and back of the engine and pump drive a bit, we were able to restart the engine. We had to work about an hour to get the drill string up. Tried to get bit and all, but it wouldn’t come out that way so I finally just unscrewed the stem and got what was left out of the ground. I knew we could recover the rest later.
We used the loader a bit more to dig out some rocks and brush, then with my two guys watching carefully, I attempted to move the rig away from the wall. I was scared that more of that high wall might come down, but very little did and I was mighty happy as that DrillTech dug in and moved away from the site of the fall. I took it out far enough to be safe and then instructed the boys what to do. I hollered at my welder to load up two more drill stems and a new drill bit and bring them over from our yard with our boom truck. I had to get one of our water trucks over as well to wash all the rest of the dirt and crud off the drill. It was a mess.
It occurred to me that I hadn’t notified my boss of this little incident, so I radioed him and he decided to come up with our safety director, who had been on a deep mine inspection several miles away. Both of them were a little upset that none of us had gotten any pictures. They also brought some parts up from our warehouse, including some new cab glass, and we had the rig ready to drill a little after the second shift started. But the driller did not complete those holes that night. We waited till the next day, and then, with a couple of foremen watching, the guy that was buried the previous day completed the row.
After the shot was loaded and set off, it took about four days to clear the blast area. Sure enough, one of the dozer hands working above the loaders called me and reported that he could see the last drill stem with the bit on it starting to stick out. I was a little worried that it might have gotten bent in the blast, but once we got it out and checked it, there was no bend in it.
In the meantime, we met with the drillers and blasters to see how we could avoid this in the future. The upshot was that we still had to drill and blast close to the highwall, but the dozer and loader hands would attempt to clear the potential slide areas more carefully, the drills would not be allowed to work that last row closest to the wall without a spotter, and no drilling at all close to the highwall was to be performed at night.
This was not the only machine that we had to dig out at those three mines over the two and a half years I worked there. I could probably write a book about the stuff that happened and the characters we had working for us. I’ve dug out several machines in other locations too and am happy to say that no one was ever killed in any of the separate incidents, though there were injuries. But those are for another time perhaps.
great story! too bad no pics. I'm glad to hear the operator got right back on the horse so to speak. If you ever do right a book thats one I would like to read.