On November 1, 2012, a 30-year old contract driller with 6 years of experience was killed at a common shale operation. The victim apparently attempted to thread a new drill steel manually, with the use of a strap and the drill head rotating, when the rotating steel entangled him.

Best Practices

  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures. Identify and control all hazards. Train all persons to recognize all potential hazards and understand safe job procedures to eliminate all hazards before beginning work.
  • Ensure that the manufacturer’s procedures are followed when adding drill steels.
  • Ensure that emergency stop/shut-off switches, panic bars, dead man devices, tethers, slap bars, rope switches, two handed controls, spring loaded controls, are functional and in easily accessible locations.
  • Never manually thread drill steels when the drill head is rotating.
  • Drills should be fitted with automated systems for changing rods, or two persons should be present when rods are changed manually.
  • Do not wear loose fitting clothing when working around drilling machinery. Avoid using a strap or other objects that could become entangled with or thrown from moving or rotating parts.
  • Monitor personnel routinely to ensure procedures are followed.

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

On February 14, 2012, a 40 year-old mine owner with 8 years of experience was killed at a shale operation. The victim was operating an excavator with a rock breaker attachment. He was breaking and mining material from a near vertical wall when the face fell onto the cab of the excavator, crushing him.

Best Practices

  • Operate excavators with the cab and tracks perpendicular to, and away from, the highwall.
  • Bench or slope the material to maintain stability and to safely accommodate the type of equipment used. Do not undercut material on the face of a slope, bank, or highwall.
  • Examine highwalls, slopes, and banks from as many perspectives as possible (bottom, sides, and top/crest) while maintaining the safety of the examiner(s). Look for signs of cracking, bulging, sliding, toppling or other signs of instability. Record the type and location of hazardous conditions.
  • Use auxiliary lighting during non-daylight hours to conduct highwall examinations and to illuminate active work areas.
  • Perform supplemental examinations of highwalls, banks, benches, and sloping terrain in the working area.
  • Immediately remove all personnel exposed to hazardous ground conditions and promptly correct the unsafe conditions. When the conditions can not be corrected, barricade and post signs to prevent entry.
  • Remove loose or overhanging material from the face. Correct hazardous conditions by working from a safe location.
Click here for: MSHA Preliminary Report (pdf), MSHA Investigation Report (pdf), Overview (powerpoint), Overview (pdf).