MSHA – Mine Fatality #3

First published by MSHA.

MINE FATALITY – On February 8, 2021, a miner was fatally injured when he became entangled in a fluted tail pulley while attempting to shovel under an adjacent fluted tail pulley.

Accident scene where a miner was fatally injured when he became entangled in a fluted tail pulley while attempting to shovel under an adjacent fluted tail pulley.
Best Practices:
  • Design, install, and maintain area guards with signage and locks in addition to the physical barrier.  Find more information on area guarding at https://www.msha.gov/guarding-slide-presentation-guarding-conveyor-belts-metal-and-nonmetal-mines.
  • Design and maintain secure guards so miners can perform routine maintenance on belt conveyor systems without contacting moving machine parts.
  • Do not perform work on a belt conveyor until the power is off, locked out and tagged, and machinery components are blocked against motion.
  • Never clean pulleys or idlers manually while belt conveyors are operating.
  • Establish policies and procedures for conducting specific tasks on belt conveyors.
  • Ensure that people assigned to work on belt conveyors are task trained, understand the associated hazards, and demonstrate safe work procedures before beginning work.
  • Ensure all new miners receive new miner training and task training.
Additional Information:

This is the third fatality reported in 2021, and the second classified as “Powered Haulage.”


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.

MSHA – Mine Fatality #2

First published by MSHA.

MINE FATALITY – On Jan. 19, 2021, a miner backed a haul truck to the edge of a dump point that was over steepened by a loader removing material at the bottom of the slope. When the edge of the bank failed, the haul truck traveled backwards and overturned, landing on the roof of the cab. The miner was fatally injured.

Accident scene where a miner backed a haul truck to the edge of a dump point that was over steepened by a loader removing material at the bottom of the slope.
Best Practices:
  • Always dump material in a safe location. If ground conditions aren’t reliable, dump loads a safe distance back and push the material over the edge.
  • Never load material from the toe directly below an active dump point. This may lead to an over steepened and unstable slope.
  • Never drive haul trucks beyond cracks on the top of the dump site.
  • Always construct substantial berms as a visual indicator to prevent overtravel. Clearly mark dump locations with reflectors and/or markers.
  • Always wear a seatbelt.
  • Install advanced systems that restrain miners during roll-overs.
  • Maintain communication between equipment operators and loaders.
  • Train miners to use safe dumping procedures and recognize dumping hazards such as material slides and other unsafe conditions.
Additional Information:

This is the second fatality reported in 2021, and the first classified as “Powered Haulage.”


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.

MSHA: Deaths among coal miners reach ‘historic low’ in 2020

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Arlington, VA — Twenty-nine miners died on the job in 2020, marking the sixth straight year the annual total has remained below 30, the Mine Safety and Health Administration announced Jan. 13.

Although last year’s fatality total represents a 7.4% increase from the 2019 total of 27, MSHA reports that coal miners represented five of the 2020 deaths – “a historic low.”

Additionally, no seat belt-related deaths were recorded for the first time in MSHA’s 44-year history. The agency also reported all-time-low average concentrations of respirable dust and respirable quartz in underground coal mines, as well as dust and quartz exposure for miners at the highest risk of overexposure to respirable dust.

MSHA credits a diverse educational campaign as a contributing factor for a significant decrease in miner deaths related to powered haulage. Such fatalities represented 21% of the overall total in 2020 after accounting for about half of all fatalities in 2017 and 2018.

In 2020, MSHA “focused on improving safety in several areas, including falls from height and truck-loading operations,” administrator David Zatezalo said in a press release. “We also focused on chronic problem areas such as disproportionate accidents among contractors and inexperienced miners. In 2019, contractor deaths accounted for 41% of deaths at mines. In 2020, they were 28%.”

According to MSHA, about 230,000 miners work in approximately 11,500 metal/nonmetal mines nationwide, while around 64,000 work in about 1,000 U.S. coal mines.


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.

MSHA – Mine Fatality #29

First published by MSHA.

MINE FATALITY – On December 15, 2020, a miner was fatally injured while changing the rear tire on a front-end loader. The victim was underneath the front-end loader when it fell.

Accident scene where a miner was fatally injured while changing the rear tire on a front-end loader.
Best Practices:
  • Securely block raised equipment to prevent movement.
  • Do not rely solely on hydraulic jacks.
  • Perform equipment maintenance requiring lifting or raising equipment on a level and solid ground.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for changing tires.
  • Establish safe operating procedures for all work.
  • Ensure all workers are trained in safe operating procedures.
Additional Information:

This is the 29th fatality reported in 2020, and the ninth 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.

MSHA – Mine Fatality 27th and 28th

First published by MSHA.

MINE FATALITIES – On December 14, 2020, two miners died when a back failure occurred in a large four-way intersection. The miners were pumping sealing grout in the intersection when blocks of salt and anhydrite fell from beneath a slickenside onto the miners.

Accident scene where two miners died when a back failure occurred in a large four-way intersection.
Best Practices:
  • In areas of excessive span or adverse geology:
    • Install supplemental ground support to control strata movement.
    • Install sag monitors or extensometers to detect ground movement or strata separation.
    • Drill and evaluate test holes for strata separation using a borescope or scratch test.
  • Use geologic hazard mapping to identify adverse conditions.
  • Be alert to any change of ground conditions.
  • Report hazardous or abnormal conditions.
  • Perform thorough workplace examinations where miners work or travel.
  • Identify and scale hazardous ground conditions from a safe location.
  • Train miners to recognize hazards and follow safe work practices, especially before they perform new tasks.
Additional Information:

These are the 27th and 28th fatalities reported in 2020, and the second and third classified as “Fall of Roof or Back.”


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.

MSHA – Mine Fatality #26

First published by MSHA.

MINE FATALITY – On November 23, 2020, a miner was electrocuted while troubleshooting a disconnect box for the classifier drive motor. The victim had the electrical disconnect box open and the main power supply was not deenergized.

Accident scene where a miner was electrocuted while troubleshooting a disconnect box for the classifier drive motor. The victim had the electrical disconnect box open and the main power supply was not deenergized.
Best Practices:
  • Ensure electrical circuit components are properly designed and installed by qualified electrical personnel.
  • Ensure electrical troubleshooting and work are performed by people with proper electrical qualifications. Positively identify the circuit on which work will be conducted.
  • Before performing electrical work, locate the visual disconnect away from an enclosure and open it, lock it, and tag it, to ensure all electrical components in the enclosure are de-energized. Verify by testing for voltage using properly rated test 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 electrical equipment and circuits.
Additional Information:

This is the 26th fatality reported in 2020, and the second classified as “Electrical.”


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.

IME Alliance Electronic Detonators – Safety Alert

First published by MSHA.

Electronic Detonators are NOT the same as Electric Detonators
Electronic and electric detonators may look similar and serve the same function, but they are very different.

Key Differences:
Lead wire attachment – As demonstrated in the figure below, the wire leads of the electronic detonator do not attach directly to a match head or bridge wire, like electric detonators. In the case of electric detonators, the direct connection of the wire leads to the matchhead or bridge wire makes them susceptible to initiation from static, stray current and/or radio frequency (RF) energy, whereas electronic detonators are not.

Added protection – Electronic detonators have other components to increase protection from extraneous energy sources: a spark gap device to protect against static discharge events (high voltage spikes from static build up on personnel, equipment, etc.), the use of current limiting resistors, amongst other devices or design features.

EMP – Both electric and electronic detonators can be damaged by an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). However, electronic detonators generally have built-in protection from this type of extraneous energy.

Pressure induced damage – Both electric and electronic detonators can incorporate dynamic and static pressure resistance, however electronic detonators (which use microchip technology and logic to provide timing and firing control) may have a higher susceptibility to damage.

Enhanced control systems – Electronic Blasting Machines are the only devices designed to provide password protection, programming capability and the energy levels needed to charge the electronic detonators in a circuit and send a fire command.

Interchangeability – Electronic detonating systems are unique and system components must NEVER be interchanged. Users should read and understand all aspects of the system they use and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Electric detonators can be used with any appropriate firing device.

Training – ALWAYS consult your manufacturer for proper training information before attempting to operate any Electronic Blasting Initiation System.

diagram of Electronic Detonators, Electronic and electric detonators may look similar and serve the same function, but they are very different.
Best Practices:

ALWAYS clear the blast area of personnel, vehicles, and equipment prior to hooking up to the firing device or blast controller. In addition, the blast area should remain clear until the charge on the electronic detonators have had sufficient time to bleed off.


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.

MSHA – Mine Fatality #25

First published by MSHA.

MINE FATALITY – On Nov. 23, 2020, a miner was fatally injured when the battery-powered scoop he was operating ran over a section of pipe in the roadway. The four-inch plastic pipe entered the operator’s compartment and struck him.

Accident scene where a miner was fatally injured when the battery-powered scoop he was operating ran over a section of pipe in the roadway.
Best Practices:
  • Conduct thorough examinations of roadways and remove material that could pose a hazard to equipment operators, passengers, or other miners.
  • Keep roadways free of excessive watermud, and other conditions that reduce an equipment operator’s ability to control mobile equipment.
  • Secure loads on haulage vehicles to prevent them from falling off into roadways.
  • Install substantial guarding to prevent material from entering the operator compartment.
  • Establish safe operating procedures for mobile equipment and a maintenance schedule for roadways.
Additional Information:

This is the 25th fatality reported in 2020, and the seventh classified as “Powered Haulage.”


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.

MSHA – Mine Fatality #24

First published by MSHA.

MINE FATALITY – On Nov. 8, 2020, a bulldozer operator was killed when his bulldozer backed over the edge of a highwall.

Accident scene where a bulldozer operator was killed when his bulldozer backed over the edge of a highwall.
Best Practices:

•    Install and maintain lights to illuminate working places during the night and early morning hours.
•    Install berms, signs or devices to identify the edge of working benches and to allow equipment operators to maintain control of equipment.
•    Train equipment operators to identify dangerous conditions and to keep the dozer blade between the operator and the edge when near drop-offs.
•    Develop and enforce policies requiring safety belts when operating machinery.

Additional Information:

This is the 24th fatality reported in 2020, and the eighth 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.

Lawmakers, UMWA join call for MSHA to lower exposure limit to silica

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — Five Senate Democrats are imploring the Mine Safety and Health Administration to lower its exposure limit for crystalline silica – a carcinogen found in sand, stone and artificial stone.

In a letter dated Nov. 20 and addressed to MSHA administrator David Zatezalo, Sens. Joe Manchin (WV), Sherrod Brown (OH), Bob Casey (PA), Tim Kaine (VA) and Mark Warner (VA) write that the findings of a recent Department of Labor Office of Inspector General report contending MSHA’s silica exposure limit is out of date “illustrates the need for urgent action.”

The agency’s silica exposure limit of 100 micrograms per cubic meter of air was established in 1969. Although OSHA has since lowered its silica exposure limit to 50 micrograms per cubic meter, “both OSHA and NIOSH warned that 50 μg/m³ is the lowest feasible limit, not the safest,” DOL OIG states in the report released Nov. 16.

Further, DOL OIG says a recent increase in progressive massive fibrosis – the most severe form of black lung disease – has been linked to “high-volume mechanized mining of decreasing deposits of coal, which releases more silica dust.” According to the report, more than three times as many coal miners were identified as having black lung disease from 2010 to 2014 compared with 1995 to 1999.

“Our nation’s coal miners have done their jobs, working tirelessly to help win wars, power the nation and keep the lights on,” the senators write. “It’s time for MSHA to do its job and update its regulations to ensure our coal miners have a safe working environment.”

In a Nov. 23 press release, United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts called the DOL OIG report “right on the money,” adding that it supports UMWA’s long-standing position calling for a lower legal limit for silica.

“It is long past time for MSHA to fulfill its responsibilities and act to protect miners from silicosis or progressive massive fibrosis (PMF),” Roberts said. “MSHA knows what measures it must take in order to ensure safe and healthy work environments for the nation’s miners and it has known it for years. The agency has a responsibility to enact those measures.”

DOL OIG recommends that MSHA establish a separate standard to allow the agency to issue citations and monetary penalties for silica exposure limit violations. Additionally, it advises MSHA to increase the frequency of inspector samples “where needed” to enhance its sampling program. One example is by implementing a risk-based approach.

In a response to DOL OIG dated Oct. 27, Zatezalo wrote that his agency does not agree with the recommendations of lowering the silica exposure limit or penalizing operators solely for exposure violations. He added that MSHA plans to issue a proposed rule on exposure to respirable quartz – one of the most common types of respirable crystalline silica.

Zatezalo said MSHA will study DOL OIG’s final recommendation, including the risk-based approach, to see if sampling needs to increase under certain mining conditions.


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