m10On July 25, 2016, a 59 year old Excavator Operator, with 17 years of experience, was killed at a limestone quarry.  Prior to the accident, the victim was loading shot rock into haul trucks. While waiting for the haul trucks to return, the victim was separating out over sized rocks when the cab of his excavator was struck by falling material from the highwall.

Best Practices

  • Operate excavators with the cab perpendicular to, and swinging away from, the highwall.
  • Examine highwalls from as many perspectives as possible (bottom, sides, and top/crest) while maintaining the safety of the examiner(s). Look for signs of cracking or other geologic discontinuities.
  • Maintain access to the top of highwalls so that thorough examinations can be conducted.
  • Perform supplemental examinations of highwalls, banks, benches, and sloping terrain in the working area during and following inclement weather.
  • Immediately remove all personnel exposed to hazardous ground conditions, barricade, and/or post signs to prevent entry, and promptly correct unsafe conditions.
  • Use mining methods that ensure highwall stability and safe working conditions.
  • Look, Listen and Evaluate your highwall and pit conditions daily, especially after each rain, freeze, or thaw.
  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures for working near highwalls.  Be your own examiner and find hazards before they find you.

Refer to PIB P10-09 ‘Safety Precautions for Operating Rubber Tired and Track-Mounted Excavators’ for additional information regarding hazards related to operating excavators at surface mines.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

m09On June 27, 2016, a 61-year old Mine Superintendent, with 24 years of experience, was killed at a limestone quarry.  The victim was building a ramp to the lower bench, was positioning his haul truck to dump a load of material near the edge of a highwall, and rolled backwards over the 90 foot highwall.

Best Practices

  • Utilize ground control methods, such as berms and dumping short to maintain distance from a drop off.
  • Maintain equipment braking and steering systems in good repair and adjustment.
  • Maintain control of self-propelled mobile equipment while it is in motion.
  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures before beginning work.  Routinely monitor work habits and examine work areas to ensure that safe work procedures are followed.
  • Identify and control all hazards associated with the work to be performed.
  • Ensure that the mining practice creates grades at the top of highwalls that slope down away from the edge.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommended brake performance test procedures especially after brake maintenance is performed.  Where no manufacturer test procedures are available, develop mine-specific brake performance test procedures.
  • Train all truck drivers to maintain the truck perpendicular to the edge when backing up at a dump site.  Slope the dump area so that trucks must back up a slight grade.
  • Get out of your equipment and inspect the work area before performing your job.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

m07-08On June 3, 2016, a 24-year old haul truck operator, with 9 months of experience, and a 56-year old hydraulic excavator operator, with 6 years of experience, were killed at a sand and gravel operation.  The two miners were working in a pit next to an abandoned roadway embankment, which partially bound an old pit.  Waste clay and sand had been placed in the old pit for reclamation purposes.  The embankment failed and the tailings and slurry engulfed both miners.

Best Practices

  • Make sure that embankments containing ponds of water, tailings, processing waste, or other fluids are designed and constructed to be stable, and that mining operations are kept a safe distance away.
  • Provide hazard training to all personnel working on or near an impoundment to recognize hazards associated with the impoundment, such as surface cracks or piping, and to recognize adverse conditions and environmental factors that can decrease stability before beginning work.
  • Embankments adjoining workplaces and travelways should be examined weekly or more often if changing ground conditions warrant.
  • Adverse weather, such as heavy rain, may introduce or increase hazardous conditions associated with impoundments, highwalls, and embankments. Workplace examinations should be increased when these hazards are present to recognize changing conditions.
  • Before beginning work, conduct a workplace exam from as many perspectives as possible (bottom, sides, and top/crest) of ground conditions that could create a hazard to persons and repair, support or remove if found immediately.  Correct hazardous conditions by working from a safe location.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

c05On June 6, 2016, a 34-year-old contract laborer with 7 years of mining experience was fatally injured when a diesel-powered front-end loader fell on him.  Working together, another miner and the victim lowered the bucket and put downward hydraulic pressure on the bucket to raise the middle of the loader. Both miners then crawled under the loader.  The hydraulic pressure released, allowing the loader to lower, pinning both miners.  A mine examiner, who was nearby, lowered the bucket again to raise the loader off the miners.  One miner was freed and assisted in removing the unresponsive victim from under the loader.  Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was performed, but the victim could not be revived.

Best Practices

  • Do not work under a suspended load.
  • Never depend on hydraulics to support a load.  Use the manufacturer’s recommendations to lift and block equipment against hazardous motion BEFORE starting any repairs.
  • DO NOT proceed with repairs until all safety concerns are adequately resolved, especially if potential hazards or prescribed procedures are unclear,.
  • Conduct examinations, from safe locations, to identify hydraulic leaks and assure repairs are conducted in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.  Verify the release of, or fully control, all stored energy before initiating repairs.
  • Treat the suspended load as unblocked until blocks or jack stands are in place, fully supporting the weight, and equipment stability has been verified.
  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures before beginning work.  Identify and control all hazards associated with the work to be performed to ensure miners are protected.  Use the proper tools and equipment for the job.
  • Train all miners in the health and safety aspects and safe work procedures related to their assigned tasks.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

m06On May 10, 2016, a 46-year old maintenance man with 6 years of experience was fatally injured at a cement plant. The victim went to the top of the slurry tank to start the rake system. He fell 50 feet through a 3-foot by 4-foot opening in the walkway into the empty slurry tank below.

Best Practices

  • Protect openings near travelways by installing railings, barriers, or covers.
  • Ensure covers or railings protecting temporary access openings are secured in place at all times when an opening is not being used.
  • Provide readily visible warning signs that clearly display the nature of the hazard and any protective action required.
  • Wear fall protection where there is a danger of falling.
  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures. Identify and control all hazards to finish the job safely.
  • Train all persons, especially workplace examiners, to recognize and understand safe job procedures before beginning work. Communicate and correct hazards in a timely manner.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

m05On April 11, 2016, a 61-year old dozer operator with 18 years of mining experience was fatally injured at a surface titanium ore mine. He had been leveling the haul roads into the pit with the dozer and was found lying approximately 30 feet in front of the dozer.

Best Practices

  • Ensure that persons are trained, including task-training, to understand the hazards associated with the work being performed.
  • Set the parking brake and lower the bull dozer blade to the ground before dismounting equipment.
  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures before beginning work. Identify and control all hazards associated with the work to be performed and use methods to properly protect persons.
  • Do not place yourself in a position that will expose you to hazards while performing a task.
  • Maintain control of mobile equipment while it is in motion.
  • Maintain equipment braking systems in good repair and adjustment. Do not depend on hydraulic systems to hold mobile equipment stationary.
  • Never jump from mobile equipment.
  • Monitor persons routinely to determine safe work procedures are followed.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

m04On April 9, 2016, a 25-year old plant operator with 4 years of mining experience was fatally injured at a surface copper ore mine. He was found unresponsive, kneeling with his face against a stainless steel flange that was connected to a high-density polyethylene pipe. The victim appeared to have received an electrical shock.

Best Practices

  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures that include hazard analysis before beginning work. Identify and control all hazards associated with the work to be performed and use methods to properly protect persons.
  • Train all persons to understand the hazards associated with working near energized electrical conductors.
  • Use properly rated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including Arc Flash Protection such as a hood, gloves, shirt, and pants.
  • Ensure that all electrical systems are safely designed and properly installed and that all metal enclosing or encasing electrical circuits are grounded or provided with equivalent protection.
  • Provide equipment grounding conductors, with a sufficiently low impedance to limit the voltage to ground, for metal enclosures.  Use a properly rated meter to identify any stray electrical currents which may be present.
  • Lock Out, Tag Out, and Try: Place your lock and tag on the disconnecting device and test for power.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

m03On March 22, 2016, a 42-year old lead man with 6 years of mining experience was fatally injured at a surface limestone mine when he was struck by fly rock from blasting operations. The lead man was parked in his pickup truck at a location to prevent others from accessing the blasting site. He was approximately 1,200 feet from the blast area.

Best Practices

  • Review and follow site specific blast plan prior to loading any explosives.
  • Utilize technology, such as face profilers and borehole probes, to obtain specific geometric details of the material to be blasted.
  • Adjust stemming depth and/or decking to maintain adequate burden on all sections of the blast hole.
  • Develop a drill pattern by considering geology, face geometry, and surface topography.
  • Clear and remove all persons from the blast area unless suitable blasting shelters are provided to protect persons from flyrock. Allow at least 15 seconds after a blast for any flyrock to drop.
  • Examine blast site geology, communicate with the driller and review the drill log for angles, voids, competency of rock, loss of air, etc., prior to the loading any explosives. Make appropriate adjustments to ensure that the holes are not overloaded.
  • Ensure blasting and fly rock areas are properly calculated to ensure the blast site is clear of all persons.
  • Determine the actual burden for all face holes along their length and adjust the explosive power factor along the borehole accordingly.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

m02On March 8, 2016, a 54-year old miner with 5 years of mining experience was killed at a surface sand and gravel operation. The miner backed his haul truck over a dump site and the driver was found at the bottom of the embankment, 60 feet below. The victim was found unresponsive and partially submerged in water. CPR was attempted, but the victim was not able to be resuscitated.

Best Practices

  • Maintain berms at least mid-axle height on the largest piece of equipment using a roadway.
  • Visually inspect dumping locations prior to beginning work and as changing conditions warrant. Clearly mark dump locations with reflectors and/or markers.
  • Provide training to all dump-point workers on recognizing dump-point hazards, taking appropriate corrective measures, and using safe dumping procedures. Instruct all drivers to maintain the truck perpendicular to the edge when backing up at dump sites.
  • To lower risks at dump areas, dumping should be conducted a safe distance from the edge. Utilize a bulldozer with the “dump-short, push-over” method of spoiling material.
  • Ensure work areas and dump sites are properly illuminated at night.
  • Equipment operators should always wear seat belts.
  • Monitor persons routinely to determine safe work procedures are followed.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf), MSHA Investigation Report (pdf), Overview (pdf).

jmain-reformattedToday MSHA held a briefing to present their proposed rule change for Workplace Examinations in Metal-Nonmetal. My preliminary assessment is that it makes the following changes:

  • Examinations will be required at the START of each shift. Yes, I’ve said this in Refresher classes. It’s silly, but the current rule just says that it’s required during each shift. No problem here. If you’re doing it effectively now you’re already doing it at the start of the shift.
  • Examination records must include hazards found and corrections made. This is the stickiest of things to include in an MSHA required report, but again an important part of a good safety examination process. Joe Main dodged the question of how MSHA Inspectors may or may not use these records to write citations based on the hazards recorded by iterating that this was a briefing and such questions were more correctly addressed during the 90 day comment period to commence tomorrow.
  • Examination records must be available to miners and miner representatives. While this  isn’t included in the current rule again, an effective program certainly has to warn the workers who would be exposed to the hazard or even a corrected hazard.

Check out the MSHA FACT SHEET here.