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.


  • 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), 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).

m11On August 9, 2016, a 33 year old Leadman Contractor, with 4 years of experience, was killed at a cement plant loadout.  The victim was attempting to replace the lift cable pulleys on the barge loadout chute, when the anchor point for the temporary rigging separated from the loadout chute and it unexpectedly fell. The falling loadout chute caused the lift cables to tighten and the lift cables pinned the victim to the loadout chute causing fatal injuries.

Best Practices

  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures before beginning work. Identify and control all hazards associated with the work to be performed and the methods to properly protect persons.  Consult and follow the manufacturer’s recommended safe work procedures for the maintenance task.
  • Task train all persons to recognize all potential hazardous conditions and to understand safe job procedures for elimination of the hazards before beginning work.
  • Examine work areas during the shift for hazards that may be created as a result of the work being performed.  Monitor persons routinely to determine safe work procedures are followed.
  • Conduct a complete pre-operational inspection of equipment that includes checking winches and cables.
  • Position yourself in areas where you will not be exposed to hazards resulting from a sudden release of energy.  Be aware of your location in relation to machine parts that can move.

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

c08On Friday, September 23, 2016, a 46-year-old miner was fatally injured in a vehicle accident that occurred along a portion of a mine’s access/haul road. The victim (passenger) and a coworker (driver) were traveling down an inclined portion of the road when the driver apparently lost control of the pickup truck, causing it to strike the road berm and roll over in the roadway.

Best Practices

  • Always wear a seat belt when operating mobile equipment, including personal trucks and automobiles.
  • Operate vehicles and equipment at safe speeds, maintain control at all times, and adjust speed for the prevailing conditions (road grade, visibility, inclement weather, etc).
  • Avoid using hand-held cell phones or texting while operating any mobile equipment.
  • Ensure that traffic rules, speed limits, and warning signs are posted in visible locations along the roadway.  Ensure the rules are obeyed.
  • Ensure that access roads on mine property used by miners in personal vehicles are maintained and are free of hazards.
  • Provide proper training to all employees on roadway hazards.
  • Maintain steering and braking systems in good repair and adjustment.

NOTE: This fatality was later determined to NOT be mining related and was removed, reducing 2016 Coal Fatalities to 8.

c07On Friday, July 29, 2016, a 58-year-old miner with 40 years of mining experience sustained fatal injuries when an ignition occurred in the shaft he and another miner were working above.  Two miners were welding threaded blocks to secure guarding around the drive-shaft between a motor and dewatering pump.  Methane ignited within the shaft, and the victim was in the direct line of the ignition force.  On August 4, 2016, the victim died from the injuries received during the accident.

Best Practices

  • Do not weld, cut, or solder with an arc or flame where methane is detected in excess of 1% by volume.  Provide supplemental ventilation in work areas where methane may be encountered.
  • Conduct proper examinations for methane immediately before and periodically during welding, cutting, or soldering, especially in areas likely to contain methane.  Perform examinations with properly calibrated methane detectors that are capable of detecting concentrations greater than 5%.
  • Ensure smoldering metal or sparks from welding, cutting, or soldering do not result in the ignition of combustible materials or methane.  Install non-combustible barriers below welding, cutting, or soldering operations in or over a shaft.
  • Provide adequate training on the characteristics of mine gases and in the use of handheld gas detectors, including the use of extendable probes or pumps.
  • Always use non-sparking tools when working where there is a potential for flammable or explosive methane concentrations and, when practicable, utilize options which do not involve welding or cutting when working near these areas.

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

c06On Monday, May 16, 2016, a 50-year-old motorman, with over 14 years of mining experience, was fatally injured when the diesel locomotive he was operating crashed through a closed airlock door.  The diesel locomotive was pulling six drop deck cars and had stopped to allow another motorman operating a trailing locomotive to separate the cars to provide the clearance needed to pass through the airlock.  As the other motorman was preparing to couple his locomotive to the cars, the train unexpectedly moved forward and continued away from him towards the slope bottom where it crashed through the closed outby airlock door.

Best Practices

  • Communicate your position and intended movements to other locomotive operators and other miners that may be in the area.
  • Always look in the direction of equipment movement and ensure travelways are clear.
  • Exercise caution in low clearance work areas and maintain adequate clearance for equipment.
  • Keep all body parts within the operator’s compartment while the equipment is in motion.
  • Maintain control of equipment so that it can be safely stopped.
  • Assure dead-man controls are fail-safe and maintain brakes and dynamic retarding controls.

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

TRAM Presentation

Oct 14, 2016

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-8-29-33-pmOne of the great benefits of attending TRAM is that MSHA distributes DVD’s with all presentations on them. The bad thing is these take some time to prepare, create, and mail. People in my presentation expressed an interest in having some of the material available ASAP, so here it is. It’s common for TRAM to provide the type of energy that make you want to start putting the ideas to work as soon as you get home.

Here’s the link to my presentation. If you have any problems accessing it please let me know.

I’m at TRAM this week picking up materials and ideas for training with other great safety professionals. If you’re there too look me up and say hi. 

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