Mission Support Alliance notified of concerns after May accident

The Department of Energy Office of Enforcement has concerns about Hanford contractor Mission Support Alliance’s handling of an accident in May, but has elected not to issue a fine.

On May 1 the wire cable on a 135-ton crane was being rewound onto a spool as a rigger stood on a platform facing the crane spool winch drum. The ironworker was wearing gloves and had one hand on the crane’s cable guard.

The wire cable anchor caught the worker’s hand as the drum turned, causing cuts that required 25 stitches.

Mission Support Alliance investigated the incident and prepared a report analyzing the cause and outlining actions to prevent similar accidents.

However, the Office of Enforcement found the report did not detail all of the issues needed to prevent a recurrence, said Steven Simonson, the director of the office, in an enforcement letter to Mission Support Alliance.

The report’s shortcomings included failing to recognize that inadequate communication among workers was a factor in the accident, according to Simonson. The report also did not recognize that DOE safety regulations prohibit an over reliance on safety rules and procedures rather than structural features that could prevent accidents.

Mission Support Alliance relied solely on rules and procedures to protect the worker, even though physical safety features had been identified after the accident occurred, according to Simonson.

A list of job hazards had been prepared. But the list was an automated analysis for mobile crane operations that were not specific to the type of crane involved in the accident. Of the 21 cranes used by Mission Support Alliance at Hanford, the crane involved was one of two with the drum in the particular position that created a hazard, according to Simonson.

Mission Support Alliance also failed to ensure there was adequate communication among the rigger, spotter, signalman, work leader and crane operator for the spooling and for a quick response to an accident, Simonson said.

The drum continued to rotate as the injured worker climbed down from his platform near the front of the crane and reported his injury to the work leader at the at the rear of the crane.

Quick action by the operator could have been needed to prevent serious injury or a fatality because of multiple places where the worker or loose clothing could have been caught in a pinch point, Simonson said.

Mission Support Alliance resumed spooling the cable three hours later without identifying and addressing the conditions that led to the accident, Simonson said.

Additional workers were exposed to the now-recognized hazard, and evidence that could have been used in the analysis of the accident cause was not preserved.

Mission Support Alliance is working with Hanford Department of Energy officials to address the concerns raised by the letter.

Annette Cary: 509-582-1533, @HanfordNews