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 February 23, 2017, a 62-year-old section foreman was seriously injured by falling roof rock in the No. 3 entry of the active working section.  The rock fell from between roof bolts and was approximately 3 feet by 2 feet by 3 to 4 inches thick.  First-aid was administered and the injured miner was transported to a medical center.  Due to medical complications from the injuries he sustained, the victim died on April 6, 2017.

Best Practices

  • Install the most effective roof “skin” control technique, screen wire mesh, when roof bolts are installed.  Most roof fall injuries are caused by rock falling from between roof bolts (failure of the roof skin).
  • Conduct thorough examinations of the roof, face, and ribs where persons will be working and traveling; including sound and vibration testing where applicable.
  • Scale loose roof and ribs from a safe location.  Danger-off hazardous areas until appropriate corrective measures can be taken.
  • Be alert for changing conditions and report abnormal roof or rib conditions to mine management and other miners.
  • Correct all hazardous conditions before allowing persons to work or travel in such areas.  Install and examine test holes regularly for changes in roof strata.
  • Propose revisions to the roof control plan to provide measures to control roof skin hazards.
  • Know and follow the approved roof control plan and provide additional support when cracks or other abnormalities are detected.  Remember, the approved roof control plan contains minimum requirements.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

On Wednesday, March 30, 2017, at 2:09 am, a 33-year-old miner (auger operator/foreman) was fatally injured at a surface auger mine.  The miner was struck by a rock that fell from the bottom section of the highwall while changing worn cutter-head bits located at the front of the auger machine.  The rock was approximately 4 feet by 5 feet by 30 inches in size.

Best Practices

  • Follow the approved ground control plan at all times to ensure the safe control of highwalls.
  • Ensure that miners at all times work, travel, and operate mining systems/equipment at a safe distance from the toe of the highwall.
  • Position and reposition the auger machine canopy as needed to protect miners near the toe of a highwall from falling material.
  • Assign a spotter during maintenance or other activities to evaluate the ground conditions when miners are positioned near the toe of the highwall.
  • Miners should not work or position themselves between equipment and the highwall in such a manner that the equipment hinders escape from falls or slides.
  • Safely examine a highwall from as many perspectives as possible (bottom, sides, and top) before work begins.  Use adequate lighting during non-daylight hours to conduct examinations and to illuminate work areas.
  • Conduct additional examinations as necessary, especially during periods of changing weather conditions.
  • Examine areas at the back of the top and the face of the highwall for hazards presented by cracks, sloughing, loose ground, and large rocks.
  • Observe and notify miners of highwall hazards immediately.  Remove highwall hazards or barricade hazardous areas to keep miners away.
  • Train all miners to recognize hazardous highwall conditions.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

On February 27, 2017, a 43-year-old plant attendant, with approximately 13 years of experience, was fatally injured when he fell through a 27-inch opening in a plate press.  The victim had climbed a ladder to repair a damaged plate when he fell about 19 feet onto a moving refuse belt.  The victim was found in a transfer chute, approximately 55 feet down the belt from where he had fallen.

Best Practices

  • Provide and maintain safe access to all work areas.  Train miners on how to safely access all work areas.
  • Protect and guard all openings through which persons may fall.  Use fall protection, maintaining 100 % tie off, when fall hazards exist.  See Fall Prevention Safety Target Package.
  • Establish specific policies and procedures for the use of fall protection.
  • Ensure workers are trained in the use of fall protection.  Monitor work practices to ensure fall protection is being properly used.
  • Conduct a risk assessment of the work area prior to beginning any task and identify all possible hazards.  Use the SLAM: Stop, Look, Analyze, and Manage approach for work place safety.

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 February 3, 2017, a 54-year-old truck driver received hip and leg fractures when he jumped from the cab of his truck as it was overturning.  The victim positioned the truck on the dump pad and began raising the bed.  Material in the bed was frozen or compacted and created an uneven load.  As the bed reached full extension, the truck fell over.  Due to complications associated with his injuries, the victim passed away 7 days later.

Best Practices

  • Stay in the cab when problems are encountered while operating the truck.  Do not jump.
  • Always wear a seatbelt when operating mobile equipment.
  • Establish safe work procedures for dumping a loaded truck and train all employees.
  • Use techniques to prevent material from freezing or sticking in truck beds.
  • After dumping, remove compacted material from the truck bed before more material is added.
  • Assure all loads are evenly distributed.
  • While dumping, use mirrors to see if the truck bed begins to lean and, if it does, immediately lower the bed.
  • Examine work areas and routinely monitor work habits to ensure that safe work procedures are followed.
  • Identify and control all hazards associated with the work to be performed.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

On Thursday, January 26, 2017, a 42-year-old miner with 23 years of mining experience was fatally injured when he contacted a moving drive roller for the section belt.  The victim was positioned between the guard and the conveyor belt drive when he came in contact with the shaft of the belt drive roller.

Best Practices

  • Before working on equipment, de-energize electrical power, lock and tag the visual disconnect with your lock and tag, and block parts that can move against motion.
  • Keep guards securely in place while working around conveyor drives.
  • When working around moving machine parts, avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing such as shirts or jackets with hoods.  Secure ends of sleeves and pant legs, as well as loose items such as personal light cords.
  • Guard shaft ends such as protruding bolts, keyways or couplings.
  • Establish policies and procedures for conducting specific tasks on belt conveyors.
  • Train all employees thoroughly on the dangers of working or traveling around moving conveyor belts and their associated components,

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

On December 2, 2016, a technical representative for a shield manufacturer, with 13 years of experience, received fatal injuries while adding components to the hydraulic system of a longwall shield.  The victim was positioned inside the shield near the hinge point when the shield collapsed and crushed him.

Best Practices

  • Ensure that miners who install, remove, or maintain shields are trained on proper procedures.
  • Never remove hydraulic components without first determining if they are pressurized and/or supporting weight.  Ensure all stored energy is released or controlled before initiating repairs.
  • Never work on hydraulic components of both supporting cylinders of longwall shields simultaneously.  A shield can collapse if hydraulic components from both cylinders are removed, even if both cylinders have functioning pilot valves.
  • Never work on a component that supports a raised portion of the shield unless the shield is blocked against motion.
  • Be aware of potential pinch points when working on or near hydraulic components.  Examine work areas for hazards that may be created as a result of the work being performed.
  • Maintain good communication with co-workers.  Make sure those around you know your intentions.

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.

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