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

ftl2013m19On December 4, 2013, a 63-year old lead man with 16 years of experience was killed at a crushed stone mine. The victim initiated a blast and was struck by flyrock from the blast. He was standing 153 feet from the nearest blast hole and was struck by rock as large as 19 inches long by 14 inches wide by 7 inches thick.

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. Task train all persons in safe work procedures.
  • Maintain and use all available methods of communication, such as sirens and radios, to warn persons of an impending blast. Establish methods to ensure that all persons are out of the blasting area.
  • Guard or barricade all access routes to the blasting area to prevent the passage of persons or vehicles.
  • Before firing a blast, give ample warning to allow all persons to be evacuated.
  • Clear and remove all persons from the blasting area unless suitable blasting shelters are provided to protect persons from flyrock.
  • Verify that the blasting procedures are effective and being followed at all times.

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

ftl2013m1617On November 17, 2013, a 33-year old powderman trainee with 5 weeks of experience and a 59-year old shift supervisor with 36 years of experience were killed at a silver mine. The two miners were in an area of the mine where explosives had been detonated the day before. Other miners working in the area were able to evacuate. Mine rescue teams entered the mine, found the two victims, and brought them to the surface. During the recovery operation, rescue teams detected fatal levels of carbon monoxide. Twenty miners were taken to the hospital and three were kept overnight.

Best Practices

  • Conduct effective workplace examinations. Identify all hazards and take action to correct them.
  • Ensure all active working areas are ventilated prior to allowing miners to work in those areas.
  • Monitor gasses as frequently as necessary to determine the adequacy of control measures.
  • Use properly maintained and calibrated gas detection instruments with alarms for concentrations outside of safe limits that are audible and visual.
  • Ensure all miners are trained to recognize all potential hazards and emergency procedures, including evacuation procedures.
  • Dispose of damaged or deteriorated explosive material in a safe manner in accordance with the instructions of the manufacturer.

Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf)

ftl2013m03On March 27, 2013, a 61-year old loader operator with 24 years of experience was killed at a crushed stone operation. The victim was in a front-end loader about 50 feet from the base of a highwall when a blast was initiated. Broken rock struck the front-end loader and covered it. The rock was removed from the front-end loader and the victim was recovered about 10 hours after the blast occurred.

Best Practices

  • Do not initiate a blast until it has been determined that all persons have been evacuated from the blast area.
  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures. Identify and control all hazards associated with the work to be performed along with the methods to properly protect persons.
  • Task train all persons to recognize all potential hazardous conditions, to ensure all persons have left the blast area, and to understand safe job procedures for elimination of the hazards before beginning work.
  • Maintain and use all available methods of communication, such as sirens and radios, to warn persons of an impending blast. Establish methods to ensure that all persons are out of the blast area.
  • Before firing a blast give ample warning to allow all persons to be evacuated.
  • Guard or barricade all access routes to the blast area to prevent the passage of persons or vehicles.
  • Verify that the blasting procedures are effective and being followed at all times.

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

On September 7, 2011, a 30 year-old miner with I year of experience was killed at an underground gold mine. The victim was on a ramp waiting for a blast to be initiated. When the round was initiated, small rock and debris traveled through a 3-inch diameter diamond borehole, striking him.

Best Practices 

  • Plug a diamond drill hole that intersects any opening and map the hole.
  • During blasting operations, consider mine specific conditions, including diamond drill holes and rock strata, and establish mine policies and procedures to protect all persons.
  • When developing a blasting plan, make sure all drilled holes and open passageways that intersect the area to be blasted are known and taken into consideration before initiating any blast.
  • Use a central blasting system and schedule blasting between shifts or on off-shifts when no one is present.
  • Train persons to identify hazards associated with blasting activity and take action to correct them.
  • Never initiate a blast until the blast area has been determined to be safe and all persons have been evacuated from the designated blasting area.
  • Take special precautions to ensure that all roadways and regularly traveled areas are blocked to prevent access when blasting is being conducted.
Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf), MSHA Investigation Report(pdf), Overview(powerpoint), Overview (pdf).

On May 28, 2010, a 59-year-old supervisor with 20 years of experience was fatally injured at an underground gold mine. The victim and another miner entered a blast area when a misfire detonated without warning. The other miner was injured and hospitalized.

Best Practices

  • Follow the manufacturers’ guidelines for the storage and usage of explosives.
  • Keep explosives storage areas clean, dry and orderly.
  • Properly rotate explosive stock to use oldest stock first.
  • Never use damaged/deteriorated/outdated explosives, initiation devices, or blasting agents.
  • Wait a minimum of the required times before entering the blast area when either a misfire and/or burning explosives are a possibility.

Click here for: MSHA Investigation Report (pdf), Overview (powerpoint), Overview (pdf),  Spanish Fatalgram (pdf)