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 #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.”

MSHA – Mine Fatality #9

MINE FATALITY – On June 13, 2020, a dragline was found submerged in 25 feet of water where a miner had been using it to remove material from a pond. Divers attempted to locate the dragline operator, and after two days the dragline was extricated from the pond. The victim was recovered from the engine compartment behind the operator’s cab.

Best Practices:
  • Maintain control of operating mobile equipment.
  • Keep all exits clear in cabs, including alternate and emergency exits, and make sure the doors open freely before beginning work.
  • Retrofit older models of equipment with current automatic braking systems.
  • Ensure all controls and brakes are set to the appropriate position for the task.
Additional Information:

This is the ninth fatality reported in 2020, and the second classified as “Machinery”

MSHA – Fatality Alert #7

MINE FATALITY – On May 2, 2020, a miner entered a dredged sand and gravel bin through a lower access hatch to clear an obstruction. The miner was clearing the blockage with a bar when the material inside the bin fell and engulfed him.

scene of accident where the victim was engulfed by material
Best Practices:
  1. Lock-out, tag-out. Never enter a bin until the supply and discharge equipment is locked out.
  2. Train miners to recognize and safely remove all potential hazards before beginning work and when clearing blocked hoppers.
  3. Equip bins 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.
  4. Follow manufacturer recommendations for clearing out blockages.
  5. Establish and discuss policies and procedures for safely clearing bins.
  6. Install a heavy screen (grizzly) to control the size of the material and prevent clogging.
Additional Information:

This is the 7th fatality reported in 2020, and the second classified as “Handling Material.”

MSHA Fatality #6

MINE FATALITY – An over-the-road truck driver was found unresponsive near his bulk trailer, where it appears he fell from the top of the trailer. The driver was taken to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery; however, he passed away from his injuries.

scene of accident where the victim fell from the top of the trailer
  1. Provide a means to align bulk trailers under truck racks to assure the ramp is aligned correctly with the trailer’s lids so that miners have safe access. Alignment methods can include painted lines, concrete barriers, cameras and monitors, or sensors to indicate proper positioning.
  2. Wear proper footwear that is clean and in good condition.
  3. Examine work areas and routinely monitor work habits to ensure that workers follow safe work procedures.
  4. Identify and control all hazards associated with the work to be performed.
Additional Information:

This is the 6th fatality reported in 2020, and the second fatality classified as “Slip or Fall of Person”

MSHA Safety Alert – Surge Piles

On March 5, 2020, an operator was using a Caterpillar D8T bulldozer on a coal surge pile near a load-out feeder location when the surge pile collapsed, engulfing the bulldozer and trapping the operator inside the cab. The operator was uninjured because the bulldozer was equipped with:

  • High-strength glass that prevented coal from entering the operator’s cab; and
  • Two Self Contained Self-Rescuers (SCSRs) which provided the equipment operator sufficient breathable air throughout the two-hour rescue effort.​

MSHA urges all mine operators and contractors to be aware of hazards associated with operating equipment on or near coal surge piles and to follow the safety practices listed below.

Safety Alert for Working On or Near Surge Piles

Best Practices for Working On or Near Surge Piles

  • Install high-strength glass certified to support at least 40 psi with a frame and supports designed to withstand the added loading.
  • Stock cabs with safety equipment. Securely store additional SCSRs, flashlights, cooling packs and drinking water in equipment cabs.
  • Mark feeder locations and provide visual indicators to identify active feeders.
  • Stay stable. Don’t operate equipment directly over feeders, stay away from the unstable drawhole edges and ensure that dozers use the “double blade” pushing method by leaving the first blade of material short of the drawhole edge and bumping it into the drawhole using the second blade of material.
  • Always keep the dozer blade between the cab and the feeder.
  • Provide gates on feeders or ensure that coal cannot discharge when a feeder is not operable.
  • Be aware of surge pile conditions such as excessive material settling in piles that have been idled, excessive compaction of material layers overlying the feeders, and freezing weather conditions that create hidden cavities when the material is “bridged” over a feeder.
  • Make sure the equipment operator can remotely shut-down the stacker and feeder belts from the equipment cab.
  • Install closed-circuit TV monitors so feeder operators can observe conditions and activities on the surge pile and provide two-way radio communication.
  • Prevent foot traffic on surge piles and provide adequate warning signs.
  • Use remote-controlled dozers on surge piles.
  • Provide adequate training for all surge pile workers to include specialized training on alarm response, equipment needs and rescue and recovery plans involving engulfed equipment.

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.”