On March 14, 2017, an independent owner/operator truck driver, walked behind his raised end-dump trailer, while dumping his load and was engulfed by sand.

Best Practices

  • Conduct pre-operational checks to identify any defects that may affect the safe operation of equipment before it is placed into service.
  • Ensure workers who operate heavy equipment are adequately informed, instructed, trained and supervised.
  • Do not position yourself near a truck that is actively dumping, or near a truck while it is raising its bed.
  • Ensure that the tailgate is unlocked before elevating the cargo box to the dump position.
  • Do not attempt to dump the material if it sticks in the bed.  Stuck material can imbalance the load and affect the stability of the truck. Always deflate trailer air springs prior to raising the dump body.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

On January 25, 2017, a miner was found in an underground limestone mine after failing to exit the mine at the end of the shift.  The miner was located under material that had fallen from the rib in an area of the mine that had been barricaded to prevent entry due to bad roof and rib conditions.

Best Practices

  • Install barriers to impede unauthorized entry into areas where unattended hazardous ground conditions exist.
  • Establish procedures to account for miners in all areas of the mine – surface, underground, shops, and facilities – across and at the end of shifts.
  • Do not cross barriers that are intended to prevent access to dangered-off areas of underground mines.
  • Train miners to recognize potentially hazardous ground conditions and to understand safe job procedures for elimination of the hazards.
  • Never enter hazardous areas that have been dangered-off or otherwise identified to prohibit entry.
  • Develop and train miners on a method that clearly alerts miners not to enter hazardous areas.
  • If possible, do not work alone. If working alone, communicate intended movements to a responsible person.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

On December 21, 2016, a 39-year old contract truck driver, with 11 months of mining experience, was injured on the surface of an underground gold mine. The victim was hauling gold ore in an over-the-road truck from the mine to the plant. While descending the roadway from the mine, the victim lost control of his truck. He traveled up an embankment and over an approximate 20 foot drop, landing back in the roadway. The victim was transported to the hospital and died from his injuries several days later.

Best Practices

  • Maintain equipment braking systems in good repair and adjustment.  Never rely on engine brakes and transmission retarders as substitutes for keeping brakes properly maintained.
  • Maintain control of equipment at all times, making allowances for prevailing conditions (low visibility, inclement weather, etc).
  • Examine haulage roads for hazardous conditions prior to permitting equipment access and especially when conditions change due to snow, ice, or water.
  • Communicate hazardous conditions to other persons using the haulage road. Ensure traffic rules, signals, and warning signs are posted and obeyed.
  • Keep roadways clear and safe for travel. Remove snow and ice which may cause loss of traction for equipment along roadways.
  • Train all employees on proper work procedures, hazard recognition and avoidance.
  • Know the truck’s capabilities, operating ranges, load-limits and properly maintain the brakes and other safety features.
  • Use chains for better traction while stopping or climbing on snow covered steep grades, consider the use of chains for better traction while stopping or climbing.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf).

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.

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 investigation will not be posted.

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), MSHA Investigation Report (pdf), Overview (pdf).

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), MSHA Investigation Report (pdf), Overview (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), MSHA Investigation Report (pdf), Overview (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), MSHA Investigation Report (pdf), Overview (pdf).