MSHA says no Pattern of Violations notices needed in 2019

Arlington, VA — The Mine Safety and Health Administration did not identify any Pattern of Violations offenders among the nation’s 13,000-plus mines for the sixth consecutive screening period.

The most recent screening period began Feb. 1, 2019, and ended Jan. 31, MSHA states in a March 17 press release. The agency conducts screenings at least once annually.

The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 authorizes MSHA to issue POV notices to operators who “demonstrate a disregard for the health and safety of miners through a pattern of significant and substantial violations.” Further, a January 2013 final rule allows MSHA to consider extenuating circumstances before issuing a POV notice and prompts operators to fix problems if they are approaching the threshold of a POV.

pair of online tools allows the agency to assist with compliance. POV monitoring notifies mine operators that they are approaching POV status and should take action to correct issues. The S&S rate calculator allows mine operators to track “significant and substantial” violations. According to the release, the rate of such violations fell to 20% in 2019 from 32% in 2011.

“Safety and health is what we care about most,” agency administrator David Zatezalo said in the release. “It’s what miners’ families care about, and we can see it’s what mine operators care about. We’ll issue [POV] notices when we need to, but it’s a good feeling to look at the screenings and see no mines meeting the criteria.”

Safety Alert – Electro-Hydraulic Lifts

Use qualified welders. Inspect welds and metal components. Train users.

Damaged or defective welds on aerial lifts have caused two fatalities in the mining industry since 2001.

  • A mechanic died while being lowered in an electro-hydraulic aerial lift. A weld splice fractured on a recently repaired arm of the lift, causing the arm to strike the victim in the head (Figure 1). The weld failed because of poor weld quality from an improper repair.
  • A welder died while being lowered in an electro-hydraulic aerial lift when the lift arm catastrophically fractured at a critical weld connecting the arm support to its lift cylinder (Figure 2). Undetected cracks existed in the weld and the surrounding metal prior to failure.
Electric hydraulic lifts use of qualified weilders, inspection welds and metal components includign training users
Best Practices:

Best Practices to Prevent the Mechanical Failure of Welded Connections
Prevent accidents by following proper welding procedures and performing regular inspections for damages or defects.

  • Only qualified welders should perform all welding.
  • Determine the service/fatigue life of mechanical systems or parts by consulting with the manufacturer.
  • Inspect welds following installation and repairs, and periodically during service life.
  • Train users in the proper operation of lifts – including not exceeding their design capacity.
  • Routinely examine metal components for signs of weakness, corrosion, fatigue cracks, bends, buckling, deflection, missing connectors, etc.
  • Use nondestructive test methods to detect cracks that may be indistinguishable to the eye.
  • Take cracked mechanical components out of service immediately. Small cracks can quickly grow and lead to catastrophic fracture.

U.S. Department of Labor Announces No U.S. Mines Met Pattern of Violations Screening Criteria

ARLINGTON, VA – Of the nation’s 13,000 mining operations, none met the screening criteria for a Pattern of Violations (POV), one of the toughest enforcement tools used by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). The announcement follows MSHA’s most recent screening, covering the period from Feb. 1, 2019 to Jan. 31, 2020. This was the sixth consecutive screening that resulted in no POV notices. The last screening covered the period from Sept. 1, 2018, to Aug. 31, 2019. Under MSHA regulations, MSHA conducts POV screenings “at least once each year.”

MSHA reserves use of the POV provision – established in the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 – for mines that pose the greatest risk to miners’ health and safety, particularly those with chronic violation records.

“Safety and health is what we care about most at the Mine Safety and Health Administration. It’s what miners care about, it’s what miners’ families care about and we can see it’s what mine operators care about,” said MSHA Assistant Secretary David G. Zatezalo. “We’ll issue Pattern of Violations notices when we need to, but it’s a good feeling to look at the screenings and see no mines meeting the criteria.”

In January 2013, MSHA published its POV rule to strengthen safety measures in the nation’s most dangerous mines. Under the regulation, MSHA may consider mitigating circumstances before issuing a POV notice and encourages mine operators to implement a corrective action program if they are close to meeting the POV screening criteria.

MSHA provides two online tools to help mine operators monitor compliance: the POV tool, which informs mine operators how they rate against the screening criteria and should take appropriate corrective actions; and the S&S rate calculator, which enables mine operators to monitor their “significant and substantial” violations. Between 2011 and 2019, the rate of significant and substantial violations dropped from approximately 32 percent to 20 percent, an indicator of safety improvements in mines.

U.S. Department of Labor Announces Effective Date For Final Rule Revising Mining Explosive Safety Standards

WASHINGTON, DC – A direct final rule revising safety standards for mining explosives has gone into effect, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced. Published Jan. 14, 2020, the rule updates existing standards to incorporate technological advancements involving electronic detonators at metal and nonmetal mines.

Learn more about MSHA rulemaking and regulations.

MSHA works to prevent death, illness, and injury from mining and to promote safe and healthful workplaces for U.S. miners. MSHA carries out the provisions of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act) as amended by the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act of 2006. The agency develops and enforces safety and health rules for all U.S. miners regardless of size, number of employees, commodity mined, or method of extraction. MSHA also provides technical, educational and other types of assistance to mine operators.

MSHA Fatality #5

METAL/NON-METAL MINE FATALITY – On February 29, 2020, a plant foreman was priming the main suction pump on a dredge when a two-inch coupling on the waterjet pipe failed, knocking the victim into the water. Divers retrieved his body several hours later. The victim was not wearing a life preserver.

February 29, 2020 fatality accident scene
Best Practices:
  • Wear a life preserver where there is a risk of falling into the water.
  • Identify all possible hazards and ensure appropriate controls are in place to protect miners before beginning work.
  • Provide swimming training for everyone that works around water.
Additional Information:

This is the 5th fatality reported in 2020, and the first classified as “Machinery.”

MSHA Fatality #4

MINE FATALITY – On February 27, 2020, a trucking company employee died while helping to position a low-boy trailer.  The victim was standing in front of the trailer wheels to assist the driver.  The truck driver moved the truck forward causing the wheels of the trailer to strike the victim.

February 27, 2020 faatlity scene of the fatality accident
Best Practices:
  • Communicate your planned movements with the equipment operator before approaching mobile equipment and verify the information was received and understood.
  • Verify miners are clear before driving mobile equipment. Communicate your planned movements with miners and verify the information was received and understood.
  • Sound your horn to warn miners that you are about to move and wait to give them time to get to a safe location.
  • Establish policies and procedures for miners to stand in safe locations when directing mobile equipment.
  • Inspect backup alarms and collision warning/avoidance systems on mobile equipment to ensure they are maintained and operational.
  • Wear high visibility clothing when working around mobile equipment.
Additional Information:

This is the 4th fatality reported in 2020, and the 2nd classified as “Powered Haulage.”

MSHA Fatality #3

MINE FATALITY – On February 27, 2020, a miner died when an unsecured 20’x8’x1″ steel plate standing on edge fell and struck him. The steel plate was being used to cover the end of a feeder to allow an equipment operator to build an earthen ramp to the feeder.

February 27, 2020 accident scene
Best Practices:
  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures before beginning work.
  • Identify and control all hazards.
  • Task train everyone on safe job procedures and to stay clear of suspended loads.
  • Require all workers to stay out of the fall path of heavy objects/materials that have the potential of becoming off-balance while in a raised position.
  • Monitor routinely to confirm safe work procedures are followed.
  • Be aware of your environment. Factors such as wind, snow, and icy surfaces can affect the stability of an object.
  • When securing an object, identify the location of its center of gravity.
Additional Information:

This is the third fatality reported in 2020, and the first fatality classified as “Handling Material.”

MSHA Mine Fatality #2

COAL MINE FATALITY – On February 10, 2020, a mine examiner was operating a personnel carrier down a mine intake slope. Evidence indicates that the personnel carrier struck the left rib while traveling down the intake slope. The mine examiner was found unresponsive near the bottom of the slope, lying beside the personnel carrier.

Scene of the fatality accident depecting victim's location
Best Practices:
  1. Maintain control and stay alert. Be aware and stay in control when operating mobile equipment. Install mechanical devices that limit the maximum speed of the equipment.
  2. Operate mobile equipment safely. Operate equipment at speeds that are consistent with the type of equipment, roadway conditions, grades, clearances, and visibility.
  3. Test brakes, steering, and other safety devices. Correct safety defects before operating mobile equipment. Test mobile equipment before it is operated and before going up or down steep slopes.
  4. Always wear seat belts.
  5. Properly train miners. Ensure each operator of mobile equipment receives proper task training.
  6. Remove unneeded materials. Keep personnel carriers free of unneeded materials.
Additional Information:

This is the 2nd fatality reported in 2020, and the first classified as “Powered Haulage.”

MSHA Mine Fatality #1

METAL/NONMETAL MINE FATALITY – A miner fell into a portable load out bin on January 8, 2020, and died at the scene.

January 8 ,2020 fatalitry scene of the fatality accident
Best Practices:
  1. Check handrails and gates. Ensure handrails and gates are substantially constructed, properly secured, and free of defects.
  2. Install mechanical flow-enhancing devices so workers do not have to enter a bin to start or maintain material flow.
  3. Don’t stand on material stored in bins. Material stored in a bin can bridge over the hopper outlet, creating a hidden void below the material surface.
  4. Lock-out, tag-out. Do not enter a bin until the supply and discharge equipment is locked out.
  5. Wear a safety belt or harness secured with a lanyard to an adequate anchor point before entering a bin. Station a second person near the anchor point to make sure there’s no slack in the fall protection system.
  6. Train all miners to recognize fall hazards and properly use fall protection.
  7. Provide safe access to all workplaces, and discuss and establish safe work procedures.
Additional Information:

This is the first fatality reported in 2020, and the first fatality classified as “Fall of Person.”

CORRECTED: Fatal U.S. Mining Accidents Dropped in 2019

Respirable Quartz and Dust Fell to All-Time Low

ARLINGTON, VA – There were 24 mining fatalities in the U.S. in 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) reports. This is the fewest annual fatalities ever recorded, and only the fifth year in MSHA’s 43-year history that mining fatalities were below 30. MSHA is still reviewing two cases of possible chargeable fatalities which, if added would make the total in 2019 the second lowest number of fatalities ever recorded. Continue Reading»