Two mining deaths within 24 hours in which the victims were working alone and in restricted areas where there were hazardous conditions highlights the need to observe best practices to avoid hazardous areas and avoid working alone, among other tips. Both were in underground mines, one coal and one limestone.

Download Alert (pdf) here.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration announced federal inspectors issued 132 citations and two orders during special impact inspections conducted at 10 coal mines and five metal and nonmetal mines in December 2016.

MSHA conducted special impact inspections at mines in Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Monthly impact inspections began in force in April 2010 at mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to their poor compliance history or particular compliance concerns. Since then, MSHA inspectors have conducted 1,270 impact inspections and issued 17,255 citations, 1,331 orders and 62 safeguards.

Click here for: MSHA link to spreadsheet (pdf).

On October 9, 2016, a 61 year old Equipment Operator, with 3 years of experience, was fatally injured at a sand surface mine. The victim was attempting to attach a screen plant to a front-end loader by hooking them together with a steel cable when the equipment moved pinning the victim. The victim was later discovered injured and leaning against the loader bucket. The victim died of his injuries the following day.

Best Practices

  • Never position yourself between mobile equipment and a stationary object. Always be aware of your location in relation to machine parts that have the ability to move.
  • Ensure that line of sight, background noise, or other conditions do not interfere with communication.
  • Ensure miners are adequately trained for the task they are performing.
  • Use a tow bar with adequate length and proper rating when towing heavy equipment.
  • Make yourself more visible by wearing brightly-colored clothing or clothing that is distinguishable from surroundings.
  • Operate all machinery in accordance with the manufacturer’s operating guidelines.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

The Mine Safety and Health Administration announces a final rule that will enhance the quality of working place examinations in metal and nonmetal mines.  The final rule improves miners’ safety and health by requiring mine operators to: (1) conduct working place examinations to identify hazards before work begins in an area, (2) notify affected miners of hazardous conditions that are not corrected immediately; and (3) record the locations examined, the adverse conditions found, and the date of the corrective action.

Check out the MSHA page here or

Download PDF of final rule here.

On December 19, 2016, a 62-year old Front-end Loader Operator with 6 years of mining experience was fatally injured at a sand and gravel surface mine. The victim was engulfed by sand when entered a hopper to remove a blockage.

Best Practices

  • Task train persons to recognize all potential hazardous conditions and to understand safe job procedures for elimination of the hazards before beginning work.
  • Train miners in safe work procedures and hazard recognition, specifically when clearing blocked hoppers.
  • Ensure employees use proper housekeeping procedures in order to avoid extraneous trash from inadvertently entering feed hoppers.
  • Establish and discuss policies and procedures for safely clearing hoppers.
  • Equip hoppers with mechanical devices, grates/grizzlies or other effective means of handling material so persons are not required to work where they are exposed to entrapment by sliding material.
  • Before working on or near equipment, ensure that the discharge operating controls are deenergized and locked out and ensure that material cannot discharge when the feeder is not activated.
  • Wear a safety harness and lanyard, which is securely anchored and tended by another person, prior to entering bins, hoppers, tanks, or silos.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

The Mine Safety and Health Administration announced federal inspectors issued 152 citations and five orders during special impact inspections conducted at 10 coal mines and seven metal and nonmetal mines in November 2016.

MSHA conducted special impact inspections at mines in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

Monthly impact inspections began in force in April 2010 at mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to their poor compliance history or particular compliance concerns. Since then, MSHA inspectors have conducted 1,255 impact inspections and issued 17,123 citations, 1,329 orders and 62 safeguards.

Click here for: MSHA link to spreadsheet (pdf).

dec-21-2016A miner was trying to determine why clay was not flowing properly by examining a chute that discharged into a screw conveyor. Instead of using a ladder to look inside, he stood on top of the metal screw conveyor cover his foot slipped and he fell approximately three feet to the grating floor hitting his head and suffered serious injuries.

BEST PRACTICES 

  • Identify all potential tripping and falling hazards before working.
  • Look for fall hazards such as unprotected floor openings or edges, shafts, skylights, stairwells, and roof openings.
  • Select, wear, and use the appropriate fall protection equipment for the task.
  • Provide and use appropriate lighting in work areas after dark.
  • Use appropriate ladder for job task.

Download MSHA Alert HERE.

m14On September 15, 2016, a 60 year old Mechanic, with 28 years of experience, was fatally injured at a Magnesite facility. The victim was seriously injured when he fell while dismounting a front end loader. The victim was hospitalized and died on September 26, 2016.

Best Practices

  • Always use the “Three Points of Contact” method. Use either two hands and one foot, or one hand and two feet when mounting and dismounting equipment.
  • Keep hands free of any objects when making three points of contact.
  • Maintain traction by ensuring footwear is free of potential hazards such as dirt, oil, and grease.  Slip resistant material can be coated to existing foot holds and handrails.
  • Use hoisting materials to transport tools and other objects that may keep hands from being free.
  • Inspect contact areas for slip or trip hazards.
  • Ensure steps and handrails are properly secured and free of defects and debris and always face equipment when mounting or dismounting it.
  • Ensure landing areas are equipped with adequate lighting.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

m13-jpgOn September 21, 2016, a 52 year old contract drill operator / mechanic, with more than 30 years of experience, was killed at a limestone mine while performing maintenance on a truck-mounted rotary drill.  At the time of the accident, the victim was attempting to remove the spindle cap from the top of the drill head while standing on the drilling deck.  The victim was using a modified pipe wrench in an attempt to loosen the spindle cap using the machine’s drill rotation hydraulics by reaching into the operator’s compartment.  As the victim activated the drill rotation lever, the wrench swung and struck him.  The force of the impact knocked him against the operator’s cab, denting the frame and breaking the side window while the rotating wrench pierced his abdomen.  As the victim attempted to climb down an adjacent step ladder, he was observed falling to the ground and striking his head.  The victim was transported to a local hospital and died later that day as a result of his injuries.

Best Practices

  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures to be used while performing maintenance on machinery.  Incorporate the manufacturer’s recommended operating procedures into related safety and task training programs.
  • Train all persons to recognize the potential hazards and understand safe work procedures to eliminate hazards before beginning work.
  • Ensure that machinery components are blocked against hazardous motion prior to performing maintenance or repairs.
  • Use appropriate equipment and hand tools for the job.
  • Do not place yourself in a position that will expose you to hazards while performing a task.
  • Stay inside of the drill cab when operating the drill.
  • Monitor personnel routinely to determine that safe work procedures are followed.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

m12On September 8, 2016, a 58-year old Haul Truck Operator with 23 years of experience was killed at a granite mine.  The victim was operating a Caterpillar 773E haul truck and was returning to the pit to be loaded with shot rock. The truck veered from the right side of the haul road to the left and traveled over the berm at the top of the highwall.  The truck landed upside down approximately 150 feet below.  The victim was found outside the haul truck.

Best Practices

  • Always wear a seat belt when operating a haul truck or mobile equipment.
  • Conduct thorough, in depth task training to cover potential hazards.
  • Monitor employees regularly to ensure seat belts are worn when operating mobile equipment.
  • Emphasize that improperly worn seat belts can NOT provide the proper restraint to necessary to protect equipment operators in hazardous situations.
  • Conduct pre-operational checks to identify defects that may affect the safe operation of equipment before being placed into service.
  • Observe all speed limits, traffic rules, and ensure that grades on haulage roads are appropriate for haulage equipment being used. Maintain control and stay alert when operating mobile equipment.
  • Provide and maintain adequate berms and other barriers of mid-axle height.
  • Perform safety inspections that include braking systems and seat belts before operating equipment; promptly remove equipment from service if defects affecting safety are found.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)