Creating workplaces where we all watch out for each other

Creating workplaces where we all watch out for each other

MSHA Fatality #12

On Wednesday, July 31, 2019, a 62-year-old contractor with 30 years of mining experience sustained fatal injuries when three methane ignitions occurred in an air shaft.  The victim and three contractors were preparing to seal the intake air shaft of an underground mine.  At the time of the ignitions, the victim was trimming metal so that it would fit inside wooden forms and was in direct line of the ignition forces.

scene of the accident where the fatality occured
Best Practices:
  • Do not use cutting torches near unventilated air shafts.  Allow no sparking or hot metal from grinding or torching to drop into an air shaft opening.  Install non-combustible barriers below welding, cutting, or soldering operations in or over a shaft.
  • Conduct proper examinations for methane immediately before and during welding, cutting, soldering or using any spark causing tool (grinder, drills, etc.), especially in areas likely to contain methane.  At an air shaft, monitor for methane continuously, at appropriate levels, including the bottom of the air shaft.
  • Use properly calibrated methane detectors that can detect concentrations greater than 5%.
  • Be aware of potential hazards when working around a shaft opening. Take additional safety precautions when the barometric pressure changes.
  • Continuously ventilate an air shaft until the last moment before pouring concrete to seal the shaft.
  • Make sure all employees are tied off while working around the shaft opening.
  • 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.
Additional Information:

This is the 12th MSHA fatality reported in calendar year 2019.  As of this date in 2018, there were 12 MSHA fatalities reported.  This is the first Ignition or Explosion of Gas or Dust accident classification fatality in 2019.  There was one fatality in this classification in 2018.

Union leaders call for new MSHA silica standard

Image: NIOSH

Washington — Alarmed by a recent spike in cases of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, a deadly but preventable condition commonly known as black lung, union presidents Cecil Roberts of the United Mine Workers of America and Leo Gerard of United Steelworkers have sent a letter to Mine Safety and Health Administration leader David Zatezalo requesting stricter regulation of respirable silica dust.

In the letter, dated June 19, Roberts and Gerard cite extensive research documenting the impact of silica dust exposure on the resurgence of black lung. One study, released by the University of Illinois at Chicago in May 2018, found that more than 4,600 coal miners have developed the most severe form of black lung disease since 1970, with almost half the cases emerging after 2000.

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Fire Safey Alert – Surface Mine Equipment

In the ten months since early September 2018, MSHA has documented nine equipment fires involving Hitachi excavators and shovels and Caterpillar haul trucks, front end loaders and dozers. On September 7, 2018, a miner received fatal burn injuries when a fire occurred on a haul truck and the manually-activated fire suppression system did not function when activated. The remaining eight equipment fires were all reported as non-injury. The manually activated fire suppression system did not function when activated during two of the eight non-injury fires and the automatic fire suppression system activated during one incident but did not extinguish the fire.

MSHA urges all mine operators and miners to be aware of fire hazards on surface mine equipment and to follow the safety practices

Best Practices:
  • Conduct thorough pre-operational exams and perform required maintenance. Identify and correct obvious fire hazards such as accumulations of combustible fluids, leaking fuel supply lines, cracked or blistered hydraulic hoses, cracked hydraulic hose flanges and connections at the hydraulic pump.
  • Install audible and visible alarms in the cab to alert equipment operators to potential fires.
  • Ensure that Manual and Automatic Fire Suppression Systems are properly designed, installed and maintained. Follow NFPA 17 and 17A and the manufacturer’s recommendations and include in-depth examination and maintenance.
  • Route actuator hoses away from the engine compartment and heat generated sources of fire, electrical wires and moving parts or ensure they are sleeved with a heat resistant fire jacket.
  • Provide miners with multiple means of escape to allow safe and rapid exit in the event of a fire.
  • Install fire shielding where exit routes require miners to travel past known fire hazard areas.
  • Adequately train miners in proper inspection and maintenance of mining equipment and machinery, proper response to alarms or sensors and proper inspection and maintenance of fire suppression systems. Provide additional training in the requirements of escape and evacuation plans and procedures for safe exit during an emergency situation.

STOP USE of 3M DBI-SALA Nano-Lok Edge and Wrap Back Twin-Leg Self Retracting Lifelines

3M Fall Protection has announced an immediate stop use and product recall of the 3M™ DBI-SALA® Nano-Lok™ edge and Wrap Back Twin-Leg Self Retracting Lifelines. The twin-leg Nano-Lok edge is part of a personal fall protection system and connects two self-retracting lifelines/devices (SRL’s/SRD’s) directly under the dorsal d-ring of a worker’s harness. It is intended to be anchored at foot-level, and is designed for sharp edge applications. The twin-leg Wrap Back Nano-Lok is intended for wrapping around an anchor and incorporates a similar energy absorber. 3M has determined that in the event of a fall and under certain conditions, the energy absorber may not properly deploy which could expose the worker to serious injury or death.


International trucker safety training expands with refresher course

Program allows qualified drivers in Mexico to keep knowledge up-to-date

PHOENIX – Two years after launching a first-of-its-kind truck safety training program for drivers and companies in Mexico, the Arizona Department of Transportation has added refresher instruction for those who have been through the program.

ADOT launched the International Border Inspection Qualification in 2017 by sending trained officers from commercial ports of entry into Mexico to provide instruction, in Spanish, on safety regulations. The goals: reducing violations that can lead to delays for truckers from Mexico and making state highways safer by allowing ADOT officers to focus on vehicles needing the most attention.

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Safe + Sound Week is just around the corner!

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From August 12-18, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor will join with workers and job creators across the country for Safe + Sound Week, a nationwide event that recognizes the successes of workplace safety and health programs and offers information and ideas on how to keep America’s workers safe.

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