MSHA publishes posters on wintertime hazards

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
msha-winter-safety-v3-3.jpg

Photo: Mine Safety and Health Administration

Arlington, VA — The Mine Safety and Health Administration has published a series of posters intended to help mine operators mitigate hazards that occur during winter months.

Topics include limited visibility, slippery walkways, and freezing and thawing highwalls.

“Winter presents different challenges to miners, especially in those places with snow and ice,” MSHA says. “In addition to other safety measures, miners must take extra precautions in the winter months.”

Agency guidance for surface mines includes:

  • Remove snow and ice from roads and walkways.
  • Drive slowly and maintain distance between vehicles.
  • Check highwalls, benches and roadways, especially after each rain, freeze or thaw.
  • Examine equipment for exhaust leaks.
  • Maintain equipment to operate safely in cold weather.
  • Apply sand or salt to walkways to improve traction.
  • Always wear a seat belt when in vehicles.
  • Check for slip and trip hazards.
  • Wear footwear that grips.

For coal mines:

  • Properly ventilate the mine.
  • Apply liberal amounts of rock dust.
  • Conduct frequent examinations.

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.

Reopened: MSHA comment period on proposing written programs for powered haulage safety

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Arlington, VA — Responding to public request, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has reopened, until Feb. 11, the comment period on a proposed rule that would require mine operators employing at least six miners to establish a written safety program for mobile and powered haulage equipment.

First published in the Sept. 9 Federal Register, the proposal is intended to improve safety at surface mines and surface areas of underground mines. According to the agency, a successful written safety program would include actions mine operators could take to identify hazards and risks with the objective of mitigating incidents, injuries and fatalities related to surface mobile equipment. The proposed rule excludes belt conveyors.

Overall, 17 of the 37 miner fatalities reported by MSHA in 2021 involved powered haulage incidents. The preliminary total comes after six straight years in which fewer than 30 miners died on the job.

During a Dec. 14 conference call for industry stakeholders, MSHA noted that five of the 10 occupational fatalities among miners from Oct. 1 to Dec. 13 involved powered haulage.

“I think the fatalities that we went through and the sheer number of them should be a sobering reality for all of us, and the work that needs to get done both at the mine site and at the management table,” acting MSHA administrator Jeannette Galanis said during the call. “So, we look forward to seeing leadership on this from our mine operators, especially around powered haulage.”

On Nov. 1, MSHA launched an enforcement initiative focused on powered haulage that comprises both targeted inspection and special emphasis components. Speaking during the stakeholder conference call, Nancy Rooney, administrator of enforcement for MSHA, said common violations to date have included failure to guard moving machine parts; defects in equipment, machinery or tools; and failure to maintain audible warning devices.

The initial comment period on the proposed rule ended Nov. 8.


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: ‘Work with us’ as powered haulage, other concerns persist

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

accident-classifications.jpg

Photo: Mine Safety and Health Administration

Arlington, VA — Officials from the Mine Safety and Health Administration covered familiar ground Dec. 14 during a conference call for industry stakeholders.

The phrase “you’ve heard this from us before” or similar variations proved popular during the hourlong proceeding, and MSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations Patricia Silvey reiterated that the reasoning was simple.

“It hits us hard when a miner’s life is lost because it’s felt not just here and it’s felt not just by the miner and the miner’s family, it’s felt in the community and beyond,” Silvey said. “So we’re asking you, just continue to work with us.

“Working together, we’ll get there.”

MSHA noted that five of the 10 fatal on-the-job injuries among miners from Oct. 1 to Dec. 13 involved powered haulage. Those include a Dec. 13 fatality in Liberty, TX, in which a customer truck driver standing in front of his haul truck was run over when the vehicle rolled forward.

Overall, 17 of the 37 miner fatalities reported by MSHA as of Dec. 15 involved powered haulage incidents.

In the Sept. 9 Federal Register, MSHA published a proposed rule that would require mine operators employing at least six miners to establish a written safety program for mobile and powered haulage equipment. Per the agency, a successful program would include actions mine operators could take to identify hazards and risks with the objective of mitigating incidents, injuries and fatalities related to surface mobile equipment.

Although the initial comment period ended Nov. 8, acting MSHA administrator Jeannette Galanis said during the call that the agency is slated to publish a notice reopening rulemaking for public comment and announcing a virtual public hearing on Jan. 11.

Further, on Nov. 1, the agency launched an enforcement initiative focused on powered haulage. Nancy Rooney, administrator of enforcement for MSHA, said the initiative has two components: targeted inspection and special emphasis.

Rooney said common violations to date include failure to guard moving machine parts; defects in equipment, machinery or tools; and failure to maintain audible warning devices.

MSHA provides multiple best practices for powered haulage.

Other agency matters addressed during the call:

  • MSHA is still awaiting confirmation of a permanent agency leader. President Joe Biden on Nov. 12 nominated Christopher Williamson, senior counsel to National Labor Relations Board Chair Lauren McFerran, for the post. “We don’t know when the Senate will schedule the nomination hearing, and we haven’t gotten any indication from them,” Galanis said.
  • In lieu of establishing an emergency temporary standard on COVID-19 vaccination, testing and masking, agency officials continue to point to updated guidance – issued by MSHA in March – that advises mine operators at coal, metal and nonmetal mines to create a virus protection program or augment an existing one. “We’re in constant flux, and MSHA is going to follow the science on this,” Galanis said. “Mines were not included in the OSHA ETS for either masking or for the vaccine ETS mandate. So, we create our own mandates, our own ETSs. We have not created one around this, and we continue to monitor the situation and work directly with mine operators on our COVID guidance.”
  • A proposed rule on respirable crystalline silica is included in the Department of Labor’s regulatory agenda for Fall 2021, released Dec. 10. “MSHA is currently working on developing a new silica standard, as all of you know, to reduce miners’ exposure to respirable silica,” Galanis said, “and we’re also effectively addressing health concerns so that all miners are safe on the job.”

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.

Pillar collapses prompt MSHA video on underground mine safety

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

stone-mine.jpg

Photo: Mine Safety and Health Administration

A new video from the Mine Safety and Health Administration is intended to raise awareness of pillar collapses in underground mines.

Although no injuries resulted from four massive pillar collapses recorded by the agency since October 2020, the video urges mine workers and operators to take action to evaluate and address hazards common to pillar collapse incidents.

During the six-minute video, MSHA displays diagrams detailing how pillar collapses occur as well as footage of an air blast resulting from a pillar collapse in August.

The act of benching, or mining the floor, changes the overall dimensions of support pillars and often is a root cause of pillar collapses.

“After the floor is mined, pillars are taller than when they were initially developed, but their width remains the same,” the video states. “The result is a tall, slender pillar with a decreased ability to support the roof. The stability of tall, slender pillars can be further impacted by inadequate survey control, poor blasting techniques, weathering or geologic features.”

Pillars with an hourglass shape or showing recent rock spalling from the rib are at particular risk of collapse, the agency says. Dangers to miners include a fall of the roof, smaller rock falls and air blasts.

“Miners may be exposed to an air blast at great distances from the location of the pillar collapse,” MSHA says, citing haul roads, travel ways, crushers, shops, portal entrances and explosives magazines as areas that potentially may be affected.

Additionally, sink holes commonly result from pillar collapses and can pose danger to surface miners working above the collapsed area.

MSHA advises mine workers to listen for falling rock or sounds of the ground working, and report any concerns to mine management or the local MSHA office.

“MSHA will be reaching out to mine operators and discussing these hazards and best practices with miners,” the video states.


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.

Mine Rescue Day is October 30

First published by MSHA
Showing MIne Rescue training a amn polling on a water hoise.
Photo property of MSHA

October 30th was set aside as Mine Rescue Day (MRD) in 2013 as a time to recognize the dedication and sacrifice of volunteers who risk their own lives to save other miners.

Throughout our nation’s history, members of the mining community have been called upon to rescue their fellow miners from emergency situations in coal and metal and nonmetal mines, whether trapped by fires, explosions, roof falls, flooding or harmful gases. Over time, these mine rescuers have become better trained and organized, and the equipment they use has become ever more sophisticated.

Today, over 250 mine rescue teams are certified and equipped to perform mine rescue operations in the United States. They train and compete in mine rescue contests organized across the United States, culminating in national championships for coal and for metal and nonmetal mines, so they are ready to answer the call that they hope never comes. When they are called, these rescuers do not hesitate. They undertake some of the most difficult and risky emergency response work in this country, sometimes traveling miles in dark underground mines filled with debris and poisonous and explosive gases in order to find missing miners or recover those who did not survive. For more information on mine rescue, visit our mine rescue training page.

On Mine Rescue Day, we salute these brave individuals who give their time and risk their lives in the service of others.


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 #21

First published by MSHA

MINE FATALITY – On July 28, 2021, a miner was standing on a rock ledge to extract dimensional stone when a triangular section of the rock broke off, causing the miner to fall approximately 35 feet.

Accident scene where a miner was standing on a rock ledge to extract dimensional stone when a triangular section of the rock broke off, causing the miner to fall approximately 35 feet.
Photo property of MSHA.gov
Best Practices:
  • Use fall protection when a potential fall hazard exists.  Ensure fall protection has a suitable fall arrest and secure anchorage system.
  • Examine working places to identify loose ground or unstable conditions before work begins, after blasting, and as changing ground conditions warrant.  Ensure examiners have adequate training and experience to recognize potential hazards.
  • Assess risks and control hazards before beginning work activities.  Remain a safe distance from cracks and any sign of unstable ground conditions.
  • Assure a safe means of access is provided and maintained to all working places.  Use personnel lifts and ladders, as required.
  • Train miners and ensure they perform work safely, use tools properly, and utilize personal protective equipment correctly.
Additional Information:

This is the 21st fatality reported in 2021, and the first classified as “Falling, Rolling, or Sliding Rock or Material of Any Kind.”


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 stand-down for powered haulage safety set for July 20

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
Stand down for Safety Day
Photo: Mine Safety and Health Administration

Arlington, VA — Alarmed by a recent surge in fatal and nonfatal work-related injuries involving powered haulage activity, the Mine Safety and Health Administration on July 20 will host a national Stand Down for Safety Day to help educate miners and employers in a bid to reduce injuries.

“All levels of MSHA enforcement staff will visit mines to meet with miners and operators,” the agency says. “MSHA staff will emphasize the need to comply with best safety practices for powered haulage, vehicle rollovers and miner training.”

The agency reports that, as of July 15, nine fatalities and 185 nonfatal injuries related to powered haulage have occurred this year.

On. Jan. 13, MSHA announced that 29 miners died on the job last year, marking the sixth straight year in which the annual total was below 30. Although the agency reported a significant decrease in deaths related to powered haulage in 2020 – 21% of the overall total – fatalities involving the activity have made up about half of miner fatalities so far this year, according to data presented June 9 during a virtual conference call for injury stakeholders.

MSHA offers numerous best practices for powered haulage:

For surface operations:

  • Always dump material in a safe location.
  • Always construct substantial berms as a visual indicator to prevent over travel.
  • Establish safe traffic patterns with proper signage.
  • Chock wheels or turn them into a bank when parking mobile equipment on a grade.

For underground operations:

  • Stop and sound audible warning device before tramming equipment through ventilation curtains.
  • Look in the direction of travel and stay in the operator’s compartment while operating mobile equipment.
  • Install reflective signs or warning lights in low clearance areas.

For conveyors:

  • Design, install and maintain guards.
  • Lock and tag conveyors before performing work.

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.

Mental illness an ‘unrecognized crisis’ among miners with black lung, study shows

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Charlottesville, VA — Coal miners with black lung disease commonly face various mental health issues, including thoughts of suicide, results of a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Virginia show.

The researchers examined data from more than 2,800 coal miners who were evaluated for anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder through a voluntary survey at Stone Mountain Health Services, a black lung clinic in Jonesville, VA. The average age of the participants – an overwhelming majority of whom were white males – was 66.

More than 1 out of 3 participants reported symptoms consistent with a major depressive disorder (37.4%) or had clinically significant anxiety (38.9%). Additionally, 26.2% exhibited symptoms of PTSD and 11.4% had considered suicide in the past year. The percentage of suicidal thoughts among all men in Virginia is 2.9.

The researchers note that the percentage “of mental illness far exceeded those documented in coal mining populations internationally.” Miners who need supplemental oxygen to assist with breathing showed accelerated rates of suicidal thoughts (15.9%), anxiety (47.7%) and depression (48.5%).

“This study highlights the unrecognized crisis of mental illness in miners that warrants urgent attention, resources and expanded care,” Drew Harris, lead study author and pulmonary medicine expert at UVA Health, said in a press release, adding that the percentage of “mental illness identified in this large population of U.S. coal miners is shocking. Improved screening and treatment of mental illness in this population is an urgent, unmet need that warrants urgent action.”

Also known as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, black lung is a deadly but preventable condition. Rates of black lung disease have more than doubled over the past 15 years, says NIOSH, which adds that symptoms may include coughing, excessive phlegm, shortness of breath, labored breathing and chest tightness.

The agency provides free, confidential health screenings through its Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program.

The study was published online May 25 in JAMA Network Open.


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.

Recent Vehicle Rollover Accidents – Safety Alert

First published by MSHA

Miners continue to die in rollover accidents.

Fatalities occurred when vehicles flipped over backwards, rolled over, and tipped over on their sides.

  • Deceased miners were operating haul trucks, excavators, bulldozers, front end loaders, and service trucks while working or traveling near the edge of dump sites, elevated roadways, embankments, ponds, and excavations.

Numerous other serious injury and close call accidents occurred involving haul trucks, water trucks, excavators, motor graders and pickup trucks. Contributing factors included the non-use or unbuckling of seat belts; jumping from vehicles; brake failure; distracted driving; loss of vehicle control; traveling or working too close to unconsolidated roadways; inadequate berms; pushing through berms; and failure to perform workplace examinations.

Accident scenes where the accidents took place
Photo property of MSHA.gov
Best Practices:
  • Examine and maintain the workplace: dump sites, roadways, ramps and berms. Unload on level, stable ground behind the dump berm or block, well back from the edge or with spotter assistance.
  • Maintain control of the vehicle: operate at safe speeds, especially on curves, and when turning or cornering; center the vehicle in the travel lane; avoid distractions.
  • Establish traffic rules: post signage where necessary and ensure these rules are followed.
  • Maintain vehicles in good condition:  brakes; wheels and tires; steering/operating controls; lights; windows; and wipers.
  • Ensure that seat belts are maintained in good condition and worn at all times: remain inside the cab; never attempt to jump clear; consider the use of four-point seat belt systems and new technology that provides early warning of tipping.

*Make sure miners and mine operators are trained in best practices.


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 16th and 17th

First published by MSHA

MINE FATALITIES – On June 9, 2021, two miners were fatally injured when a locomotive collided with the personnel carrier in which they were riding.

accident scene where two miners were fatally injured when a locomotive collided with the personnel carrier in which they were riding
Photo property of MSHA.gov
Best Practices:
  • Install lights or other engineering controls to let miners know when it is safe to travel on track haulageways.
  • Implement a communicaton system so that one person, who is not on any mobile equipment, has the sole authority to authorize travel on track haulageways.
  • Establish and maintain effective communication protocols that require identification, location and intended travel, between locomotives, light vehicles and foot traffic.
  • Train miners on proper traffic patterns and procedures.
Additional Information:

These are the 16th and 17th fatalities reported in 2021, and the 8th and 9th 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.