MSHA Close Call Alert – Surface – Iron Ore

Surface – Iron Ore – On April 29, 2019, a miner suffered minor injuries when his haul truck traveled over the edge of a stock pile dump point causing the truck to roll onto its top. The driver was wearing a seat belt.

Surface- Haul Truck- June 12-2019

Best Practices:
  • Always wear a seat belt when operating self-propelled mobile equipment.
  • Examine dumping locations for stability prior to dumping the first load and as ground conditions change during the work shift. Where ground conditions may fail to support the weight of the truck, dump loads a safe distance back from the edge.
  • Provide training regarding dump-point hazards.
  • Travel in a straight line when backing a truck toward a dump location.
  • Maintain berms or similar impeding devices at dumping locations where there is a hazard of overtravel or overturning.
  • Clearly mark dump locations with reflectors and/or markers.

Long shifts, inexperience boost miners’ injury risk: study

Long workdays and being new on the job are two factors that may heighten the risk of workplace injuries among miners, a recent study suggests.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago analyzed nearly 546,000 Mine Safety and Health Administration Part 50 worker injury reports filed between 1983 and 2015. They found that 9.6% of the miners logged shifts of at least nine hours on the day they were injured, including 5.5% of miners in 1983 and 13.9% of miners in 2015. Miners involved in shifts of such length were 32% more likely to suffer work-related fatalities and 73% more likely to be part of an incident that caused injuries to multiple miners. Risk factors associated with injuries related to working long hours include lack of routine, irregular schedules, specific mining activities and having less than two years on the job.

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MSHA MINE FATALITY #5

On Thursday, March 7, 2019, a 38-year-old miner with 10 years of mining experience received fatal injuries while he was working on the pad of a highwall mining machine (HWM).  The miner was contacted in a pinch point between a post and a section of the HWM (i.e. push beam) that was being removed as part of the normal mining cycle.

Fatality #5 Accident Scene
Best Practices:
  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures for removing push beams.  Identify and control all hazards and develop methods to protect miners.
  • Determine the proper working position to avoid pinch points.  Monitor personnel to ensure safe work procedures are followed.
  • Always follow the equipment manufacturer’s recommended maintenance procedures and discuss these procedures during training.
  • Train miners to recognize potential hazardous conditions and understand safe job procedures before beginning work.

MSHA MINE FATALITY #4

On March 7, 2019, a 46-year-contractor with three years of experience was fatally injured when he lost his balance and fell backwards through a narrow gap between two log washers and landed on a cable tray approximately 12 feet below.  The victim was changing drive belts on a log washer motor when his wrench slipped off of a bolt he was tightening, causing the loss of balance.

Best Practices:
  • Always use fall protection equipment, safety belts and lines, when working at heights and near openings where there is a danger of falling.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and any hazards that may be present.
  • Have properly designed handrails, guards, and covers securely in place at openings through which persons may fall.
  • Train personnel in safe work procedures regarding the use of handrails and fall protection equipment during maintenance and construction activities and ensure their use.
  • Conduct workplace examinations in order to identify and correct hazards prior to performing work.

MSHA MINE FATALITY #3

 On March 6, 2019, a 35-year-old contractor with 35 weeks of experience was fatally injured when he was struck by a relief valve that was ejected from a 500-ton hydraulic jack.    The hydraulic jack was being engaged to make contact with the frame of a P&H 4100A shovel when the relief valve was ejected.

Fatality #3 hydraulic jack
Best Practices:
  • Inspect, examine, maintain, and evaluate all materials and system components used in the installation, replacement, or repair of pressurized systems to ensure they are suitable for use and meet minimum manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Test systems at lower pressures to verify connections and flow rates prior to full pressure use.
  • Position yourself in a safe location, away from any potential sources of failure, while pressurizing systems.
  • Consult and follow the manufacturer’s recommended safe work procedures.
  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures that include hazard analysis before beginning work. Identify and control all hazards associated with the work to be performed and use methods to properly protect persons.

Assessment of Civil Penalties for MSHA; Inflation Adjustment

On January 23, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor will publish a final rule in the Federal Register that will adjust for inflation MSHA’s civil monetary penalties.  On November 2, 2015, the President signed into law the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015.  This law requires the Department to annually adjust its civil monetary penalty levels for inflation no later than January 15 of each year. Continue Reading »

The table below reports the change to MSHA’s penalties in 2019.

MSHA MINE FATALITY #2

On Monday, January 14, 2019, a 56-year-old survey crew member with approximately 30 years of mining experience was fatally injured after he was struck by a loaded shuttle car.  The victim was measuring the mining height in an entry that was part of the travel-way used by the shuttle car to access the section feeder.

Fatality #2 accident scene
Best Practices:
  • Before performing work in an active haulage travel-way, communicate your position and intended movements to mobile equipment operators and park mobile equipment until work has been completed.
  • Never assume mobile equipment operators can see you.  Always wear reflective clothing and permissible strobe lights to ensure high visibility when traveling or working where mobile equipment is operating.
  • Be aware of blind spots on mobile equipment when traveling in the same areas where mobile equipment operates.
  • Place visible warning and barrier devices at all entrances to areas prior to performing work in active travelways of mobile equipment.
  • Operate mobile equipment at safe speeds and sound audible warnings when visibility is obstructed, making turns, reversing direction, etc.  Ensure sound levels of audible warnings are significantly higher than ambient noise.
  • Ensure directional lights are on when equipment is being operated.  Maintain all lights provided on mobile equipment in proper working condition at all times.

MSHA MINE FATALITY #1

On Saturday, January 5, 2019, a 55-year-old contract miner received fatal injuries when he was pinned between a pneumatically powered air lock equipment door and the concrete rib barrier located near the shaft bottom.

Fatality #1 accident scene
Best Practices:
  • Design and maintain ventilation controls, including airlock doors to provide air separation and permit travel between or within air courses or entries.
  • Ensure that airlock doors are designed and maintained to prevent simultaneous opening of both sets of doors.
  • Ensure miners are trained in the proper use of automatic doors and procedures to follow in the event the doors malfunction.
  • Provide means to override automatic airlock doors and allow manual operation in case of an emergency.
  • Keep the path of automatic doors clear of miners and equipment.
  • When changes in ventilation are made, test automatic doors to ensure they operate safely under the new conditions.
  • Perform thorough examinations of airlock doors to assure safe operating conditions.  When a hazardous condition is found, remove the doors from service until they are repaired.

U.S. Mining Fatalities in 2018 Were Second Lowest on Record

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) reports that 27 mining fatalities occurred in 2018 – the second lowest number ever recorded.

Eighteen fatalities occurred at surface operations; nine occurred in underground mines. Approximately 250,000 miners work across 12,000 U.S. metal/nonmetal mines, and 83,000 miners work in the nation’s 1,200 coal mines.

The leading cause of fatalities was powered haulage, which accounted for 13 fatalities or 48 percent of the annual total. MSHA has taken action to counter powered haulage fatalities, including publishing a Request for Information seeking stakeholder input on technologies and practices that can improve safety conditions related to mobile equipment and belt conveyors. MSHA also launched a campaign to educate miners and mine operators on the hazards associated with such equipment.