MSHA: ‘No changes are necessary’ to criteria for certifying coal mine rescue teams

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Arlington, VA — Criteria for the certification of coal mine rescue teams will “remain in effect, without changes,” the Mine Safety and Health Administration announced Sept. 1, after completing a requisite review under the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act of 2006.

MSHA revised the guidelines of the MINER Act in December 2013. Certification criteria for mine rescue teams outlined under Title 30 CFR Part 49.50 state that members must:

  • Receive proper annual training.
  • Be familiar with the operations of each covered mine.
  • Participate in at least two local mine rescue contests each year.
  • Complete mine rescue training at each covered mine.
  • Be knowledgeable about the operations and ventilation of each covered mine.

The MINER Act requires MSHA to review the certification criteria every five years.

“After a review of these criteria, MSHA has determined that these criteria are still appropriate and that no changes are necessary,” the agency states.


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

Working near belt conveyors: Recent deaths spur MSHA safety alert

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Arlington, VA — Spurred by numerous fatalities related to the hazards of working near belt conveyors, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a safety alert.

Published on Sept. 3, the alert states that eight fatalities involving belt conveyors have occurred in the industry since Jan. 26, 2017. Six involved miners working near a moving conveyor, and two occurred during maintenance on an idle conveyor.

“All of these fatalities could have been prevented with proper lockout/tagout and blocking against motion before working,” the alert states.

MSHA details the most recent incident, which occurred in December and remains under investigation. A miner was fatally injured after removing a splice pin from a mainline conveyor that was caught between the belt and frame of the belt tailpiece.

The agency lists multiple best practices for working safely near belt conveyors, including:

  • Identify, isolate and control stored mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and gravitational energy.
  • Effectively block the belt conveyor to prevent movement in either direction.
  • Relieve belt tension by releasing energy at the take up/belt storage system. Remember: Some tensile energy might still exist.
  • Position belt splice in an area of safe access to avoid pinch points.
  • De-energize electrical power, and lock and tag the main disconnect before beginning maintenance. Permit only the person who installed a lock and tag to remove them – and only after completing the work.
  • Never lock out start and stop controls or belt switches, as they don’t disconnect power conductors.

 


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.


MSHA – Mine Fatality #13

MINE FATALITY – On August 18, 2020, a miner was killed while attempting to clear a material blockage. The miner entered the cone crusher to begin work when the material shifted and engulfed him.  He was extracted from the crusher and taken to a hospital, where he died the next day.

accident scene where the victim was extracted from the crusher and taken to a hospital, where he died the next day
Best Practices:
  • Properly design chutes and crushers to prevent blockages. Install a heavy screen (grizzly) to control the size of material and prevent clogging.
  • Equip chutes with mechanical devices such as vibrating shakers or air cannons to loosen blockages, or provide other effective means of handling material, so miners are not exposed to entrapment hazards by falling or sliding material.
  • Establish and discuss policies and procedures for safely clearing crushers.
  • Train miners to recognize and safely remove all potential hazards before beginning work and when clearing blocked crushers.
Additional Information:

This is the 13th fatality reported in 2020, and the second classified as “Fall of Material.”


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

COVID-19 pandemic: ‘More action is needed’ from MSHA, DOL inspector says

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Photo: davidmariuz/iStockphoto

Washington — Although the Mine Safety and Health Administration has taken steps to protect workers in the mining industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, “more action is needed” from the agency as evolving challenges mount, the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General concludes in an audit report.

Released July 24, the report resulted from a DOL OIG analysis of MSHA guidance, various states’ executive orders and other related documents, as well as an assessment of interviews with MSHA officials and union representatives.

DOL OIG issued two recommendations to MSHA:

  • Monitor the potential backlog of suspended and reduced enforcement activities and develop a plan to manage the backlog once full operations resume.
  • Monitor COVID-19 outbreaks at mines and use that information to reevaluate the agency’s decision not to issue an emergency temporary standard related to COVID-19.

MSHA administrator David Zatezalo states in a written response to the audit report that he agrees with the recommendations and notes that “MSHA currently does not have a backlog of statutorily mandated enforcement activities and the agency anticipates meeting such requirements for [fiscal year] 2020.”

webpage detailing the agency’s response to the pandemic states that “MSHA will continue to perform its essential functions, including mandatory inspections, serious accident investigations and investigations of hazard complaints (imminent danger or serious in nature).” However, DOL OIG reports that the agency, as of May, has suspended five categories of enforcement actions – including its incident reduction program – while seriously reducing activity in 13 other categories.

Additionally, about 100 of 750 agency inspectors self-identified as high risk for severe complications from COVID-19, DOL OIG reports, prompting them to work remotely or take leave. Although this measure accounts for these inspectors’ safety and health, it may contribute to putting miners at increased risk because the remaining inspectors “must work overtime to cover those gaps” while identifying potential hazards.

MSHA has released voluntary guidelines intended to protect miners during the pandemic, but the agency “is facing considerable pressure from mining unions, Congress, and others to exercise its authority and issue an emergency temporary standard,” the report states.

In May, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced bipartisan legislation that would require MSHA to issue within seven days of enactment an emergency temporary standard to help protect mine workers from exposure to COVID-19, followed by a final rule. At press time, the COVID-19 Mine Worker Protection Act (S. 3710) remained in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

One month after the bill was introduced, the United Mine Workers of America and the United Steelworkers filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit a joint emergency petition against the Department of Labor and MSHA as a measure to compel the agency to issue an emergency temporary standard on infectious diseases.

“The noted legislation has not yet been enacted and the petition before the U.S. Court of Appeals is pending,” the report states. “MSHA leadership told us it does not intend to issue an emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 until it determines the need arises.”


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Working in Proximity to Belt Conveyors – Safety Alert

Lock-Out, Tag-Out, Try-Out, and Block Against Motion Before Working.

There have been eight fatalities involving belt conveyors in the mining industry since January 26, 2017. Six involved miners working near moving conveyors, while two involved maintenance of an idle conveyor. All of these fatalities could have been prevented with proper lock-out/tag-out and blocking against motion before working. The most recent fatality, involving a miner coming in contact with a moving conveyor, is under investigation.

On December 23, 2019, a miner on a belt move crew was fatally injured while removing a splice pin from a 72-inch mainline conveyor. A belt gripper and a ratchet-style come-along failed, releasing stored energy in a tightly stretched portion of the belt, causing the belting to suddenly become taut and shift upward, pinning the miner between the belt and frame of the belt tailpiece.

Belt Conveyor safety alert for September 2020
Best Practices:

Best practices During Belt Conveyor Maintenance

Block From Motion

  • Identify, isolate, and control stored mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, and gravitational energy.
  • Effectively block the belt conveyor to prevent movement in either direction.
  • Relieve belt tension by releasing the energy at the take-up/belt storage system. Be aware that some tensile energy may remain.
  • Anchor belt clamping system to substantial belt structures. Use properly rated engineered belt clamps and come-alongs. Do not use belt grippers to restrain tensioned belts.
  • Position the clamp 90 degrees to the belt’s direction of travel, and tie off in line with the belt’s direction of travel.
  • Position belt splice where it can be safely accessed to avoid pinch points.
  • Be aware of the consequences if blocking equipment fails. Stand in safe locations.

Lock and Tag

  • De-energize electrical power, and lock and tag the main disconnect before beginning maintenance. Only the person who installed a lock and tag can remove them, and only after completing the work.
  • Never lock out using the start and stop controls (belt switches). These do not disconnect power conductors.
  • Once power has been disconnected and properly locked and tagged out, test the system to assure there is no power to the belt conveyor.

Training and Communication

  • Ensure miners are trained on safe work procedures. Develop step-by-step procedures and review them with all miners before they perform non-routine maintenance tasks such as adding or removing conveyor belt.
  • Communicate effectively. After maintenance has been completed and before removing your lock and tag, ensure everyone is clear of the belt conveyor and communicate to others that you will be restarting the belt.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

No changes to training requirements for refuge alternatives in coal mines, MSHA says

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Photo: JodiJacobson/iStockphoto

Washington — The Mine Safety and Health Administration has determined that the annual training requirements outlined in its Refuge Alternatives for Underground Coal Mines rule supply “an experience sufficient to enable miners to apply their knowledge, other training and available written instruction to effectively use the refuge alternative in an emergency.”

After multiple reopenings of the record and extensions of the comment period, MSHA announced in a notice published in the July 10 Federal Register that the rule – finalized in December 2008 and effective in March 2009 – “remains in effect without change.”

In 2009, United Mine Workers of America challenged the rule in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, citing NIOSH research in support of its push for quarterly training to better protect miners.

The court remanded the rule but didn’t vacate it, directing the agency to “explain the basis for the training frequency provision from the existing record or to reopen the record and allow additional public comment if needed.”

After reopening the record, MSHA received three public comments, including two in support of retaining the existing rule. The agency states in the notice that the rule’s approach is consistent with mandates in West Virginia, the lone state that specifies training for refuge alternative deployment requirements. It added, “MSHA concludes that annual motor-task (hands-on), decision-making and expectations training, supplemented by existing mandated quarterly review of deployment and use procedures, as well as existing mandated quarterly evacuation training and quarterly evacuation drills with review of a mine’s evacuation plan, which include discussion of emergency scenarios and options for escape and refuge, will prepare miners to deploy and use refuge alternatives appropriately and effectively in an emergency.”


McCraren Compliance sees the solution in our people. We are developing each person into a safety leader by recognizing and valuing them as humans and teaching them to do the same with their co-workers. We are creating workplaces where we all watch out for each other.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

MSHA – Mine Fatality #12

MINE FATALITY – On July 24, 2020, two miners were loading explosives from inside an aerial lift’s basket when the basket jolted upward into the mine roof, causing the death of one of the miners.

MSHA - Mine Fatality #12 - Safety Training and Consulting with McCraren Compliance.
Photo property of MSHA.gov
Best Practices:
  • Check all equipment before using it. Report all defects affecting safety to a responsible person for correction.
  • Service and maintain hydraulic systems according to the manufacturer’s specifications and schedules. Excessive pressure in a hydraulic circuit can drastically alter the control of booms, etc., creating serious hazards.
  • Instruct aerial lift users on hazard recognition and safe job procedures to avoid unsafe conditions.
  • Train lift operators in safe operating procedures listed in the operator’s manual.
  • Report equipment malfunctions and remove the equipment from service until repaired.
Additional Information:

This is the 12th fatality reported in 2020, and the third classified as “Machinery.”

 


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Fall Protection June 2020 – Safety Alert

Recent Increase in Fall of Person Accidents

28 miners have died after falling from heights over the last 10 years.

Deaths from falls have increased from 8% to 19% of mining fatalities in the last two years.

  • Working without fall protection on top of trucks, in aerial lift baskets, and while accessing and egressing other mobile equipment
  • While performing maintenance on crushers, screens, conveyors, and other milling equipment

MSHA issued 92 imminent danger orders for people working at heights without fall protection between January 2019 and June 2020. The most common violations were truck drivers climbing atop their vehicles, and maintenance and quarry personnel climbing to or working without fall protection in high places. Supervisors have been ordered down from dangerous locations.

Fall protection Safety Alert information for June of 2020
Best Practices:
  • Reduce hazards. Design work areas and develop job tasks to minimize fall hazards.
  • Have a program. Establish an effective fall prevention and protection program. Provide task and site-specific hazard training that prohibits working at unprotected locations.
  • Provide a fall protection harness and lanyard to each miner who may work at an elevated height or a location unprotected by handrails. Ensure their use.
  • Provide identifiable, secure anchor points to attach lanyards.
  • Proactively enforce fall protection equipment usage and safe work-at-height policies and procedures with supervisors, miners, contractors, and truck drivers.
  • Provide mobile or stationary platforms or scaffolding at locations and on work projects where there is a risk of falling.
  • Provide safe truck tarping and bulk truck hatch access facilities.

MSHA – Mine Fatality #11

MINE FATALITY – On July 9, 2020, a mine superintendent was electrocuted while attempting to reverse the polarity of a 4,160 VAC circuit by switching the leads inside an energized 4,160 VAC enclosure that contained a vacuum circuit breaker and disconnect.

Scene of the acciodent where the victim was electricuted
Best Practices:
  • Follow these steps before performing electrical work inside a high voltage enclosure:
    1. Locate the high voltage visual disconnect away from the enclosure that supplies incoming electrical power to the enclosure.
    2. Open the visual disconnect to provide visual evidence that the incoming power cable(s) or conductors have been de-energized.
    3. Lock-out and tag-out the visual disconnect yourself. Never rely on others to do this for you.
    4. Ground the de-energized conductors.
  • Verify circuits are de-energized using properly rated electrical meters and non-contact voltage testers.
  • Ensure properly qualified miners perform all work on high voltage equipment.
  • Wear properly rated and well maintained personal protective equipment, including arc flash protection such as a hood, gloves, shirt and pants.
  • Train miners on safe work practices for high voltage electrical equipment and circuits.
Additional Information:

This is the 11th fatality reported in 2020, and the first classified as “electrical.”

MSHA -Mine Fatality #10

MINE FATALITY – On June 19, 2020, a miner died while inspecting a stockpile for oversized material. As the victim walked along the toe of the stockpile, a portion of the stockpile collapsed, covering him with approximately four feet of material.

scene of the accident where the fatality occured
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 everyone to recognize potential hazardous conditions that can decrease bank or slope stability and ensure they understand safe job procedures for eliminating hazards.
  • Stay clear of potentially unstable areas. Barricade the toe area to prevent access where hazards have not been corrected.
  • Oversteepened slopes may be flattened from the top of the stockpile by using a bulldozer to gradually cut down the slope.
Additional Information:

This is the 10th fatality reported in 2020, and the first classified as “Falling, Rolling, or Sliding Rock or Material of Any Kind.”