Creating workplaces where we all watch out for each other

Creating workplaces where we all watch out for each other

Rotating Conveyor Rollers – Safety Alert

Danger – Rotating Conveyor Rollers!

Three miners have been permanently disabled since the beginning of 2024

Serious and fatal injuries occur when miners clean or adjust conveyor rollers, pulleys and idlers while the belt is in motion.  Injuries vary from broken bones to loss of fingers, hands, and arms. Some accidents have resulted in fatal injuries.  Injuries result from unsafe actions like:

  • Using aerial lifts to access elevated bend, snub, and take-up pulleys, or removing or reaching around guards to work on moving conveyor components.
  • Using scrapers, shovels, pry bars, hammers and torches to remove ice, mud or buildup.  The tools can be caught in pinch points between the conveyor belt and rollers and pull in the tools and miners’ hands, arms, and bodies.
Serious and fatal injuries occur when miners clean or adjust conveyor rollers, pulleys and idlers while the belt is in motion.
Photo property of MSHA
Best Practices
  • Keep guards in place.  Do not defeat or circumvent any protective system.
  • Have an effective lock-out program.  Shut down, deenergize and lock out power switches and block conveyor parts against hazardous motion prior to performing belt roller or pulley cleaning, belt tracking or other maintenance.
  • Establish policies and procedures to ensure proper and safe cleaning and maintenance of conveyor components.
  • Provide task and site-specific hazard training that prohibits cleaning or working on or around moving conveyor components.
  • Follow safe cleaning and maintenance policies and procedures.  Supervisors, miners, and contractors are all responsible for working safely.

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.

Original article published by MSHA

Truck Dumping – Safety Alert

MSHA Safety Alert

Truck Dumping Safety

On January 2, 2024, the driver of an over the road tractor-trailer haul truck died when the trailer tipped over onto the cab of the tractor. The driver was dumping part of the load of gravel from the trailer. Between 2018 and 2024, mine operators reported 14 injury accidents where over the road trucks tipped or rolled over while dumping. During the same period, miners were also injured when 28 off-road mine haul trucks tipped or rolled over. The accidents can be prevented with proper training and following best practices:

The driver was dumping part of the load of gravel from the trailer. Between 2018 and 2024, mine operators reported 14 injury accidents where over the road trucks tipped or rolled over while dumping.
Photo property of MSHA
Best Practices

For Drivers:

  • Dump only on level surfaces, free of spillage. Make sure elevated dump sites are substantial and equipped with adequate dump point restraints.
  •  Keep your truck and trailer in a straight line when backing up and never move faster than walking speed.
  • Avoid dumping in high or gusty wind conditions.
  • Stay in the cab with your seatbelt on during the dumping process. Never attempt to exit or jump from an overturning truck.
  • After dumping, remove any compacted material before reloading the truck.
  • Evenly distribute the load and use antifreeze in cold weather to prevent material from freezing and sticking in the truck bed.
  • Never overload trucks or trailers.

MSHA conducted second Pattern of Violations screening to protect miners in 2023; identifies chronic violator

West Virginia coal mine meets POV screening criteria; receives postponement notice

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration today released the results of its second 2023 pattern of violations screening to identify chronic violators and mine operators demonstrating a disregard for the health and safety of miners. This was the first time that the agency conducted more than one POV screening in a single calendar year.

The pattern of violations screening process examines all of the nation’s mines and identifies mines with a high number of significant and substantial violations and other safety and health compliance problems. An S&S violation is one that could contribute in a significant and substantial way to the cause and effect of a safety or health hazard. Under the Mine Act, MSHA identifies mines exhibiting a pattern of S&S violations and is authorized to issue a POV notice – one of the agency’s toughest enforcement actions – to mine operators. If a mine receives notice of a POV and subsequently commits additional S&S violations, MSHA is authorized to withdraw miners from the affected area except those necessary to correct the violation.

As a result of the screening, MSHA identified that Mine No. 39 in McDowell County, West Virginia operated by Twin State Mining Inc., met the initial POV criteria for the existence of a pattern of violations under section 104(e) of the Mine Act. During the 12-month review period – from Nov. 1, 2022, through Oct. 31, 2023 – MSHA cited 87 S&S violations at Mine No. 39. The S&S rate per 100 inspection hours was 9.11; the national average rate for underground coal mines was 2.90.

Although the mine met the initial screening criteria, under the POV process, the mine was reviewed for mitigating circumstances, which can result in postponing or not issuing or a POV notice. MSHA determined that postponement was warranted, pending the agency’s continued evaluation of Mine No. 39’s operations and issued a postponement notice to Twin State Mining Inc. MSHA will continue to monitor Mine No. 39 and has the discretion to rescind the postponement and issue a POV notice if it determines such action is needed to protect the safety and health of miners.

“The Biden-Harris administration has demonstrated that it will use its enforcement tools such as its POV authority and impact inspections to focus on chronic violators and protect miners’ safety and health,” said Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Chris Williamson. “Following a year when the mining industry experienced a troubling increase in fatalities, MSHA continues to use all measures available to prevent fatal and serious accidents and hold low-road operators accountable.”

MSHA’s two most recent POV issuances remain in effect. MSHA issued a POV notice on July 6, 2023 to Atalco Gramercy LLC, the operator of Gramercy Operation in Gramercy, Louisiana, after identifying a pattern of S&S violations related to caustic spills and leaks. On December 1, 2022, MSHA issued a POV notice to Morton Salt Inc., operator of the Weeks Island Mine and Mill in New Iberia, Louisiana, after identifying a pattern of S&S violations related to roof and rib hazards.

Operators placed on a POV who commit S&S violations are required to withdraw miners from the affected area until MSHA determines that the violation has been abated. The POV notice is terminated if MSHA does not issue a withdrawal order within 90-days after the issuance of the POV notice or if an MSHA inspection of the entire mine finds no S&S violations.

MSHA offers two online calculators to help mine operators monitor compliance: the Pattern of Violations Calculator, which allows mine operators to monitor performance under the POV screening criteria and alerts mine operators that corrective actions are needed, and the Significant and Substantial Calculator, which enables mine operators to monitor their S&S violations. It is the responsibility of mine operators to track their violation and injury histories to determine whether they need to take action to avoid meeting the POV screening criteria.


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.

Original article published by MSHA

MSHA completed impact inspections at 16 mines with histories of repeated health, safety violations in December 2023

Inspections resulted in 57 significant, substantial and 3 unwarrantable failure findings

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that its Mine Safety and Health Administration completed impact inspections at 16 mines in 11 states in December 2023, issuing 247 violations.

The agency began conducting impact inspections after an April 2010 explosion in West Virginia at the Upper Big Branch Mine killed 29 miners.

MSHA’s impact inspections in 2023 identified 2,739 violations, including 764 significant and substantial and 56 unwarrantable failure findings. An S&S violation is one that is reasonably likely to cause a reasonably serious injury or illness. Violations designated as unwarrantable failures occur when an inspector finds aggravated conduct that constitutes more than ordinary negligence.

The agency conducts impact inspections at mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to poor compliance history; previous accidents, injuries, and illnesses; and other compliance concerns. Of the 247 violations MSHA identified in December, 57 were evaluated as S&S and three had unwarrantable failure findings. The agency completed these inspections at mines in Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

“In 2023, MSHA employees demonstrated the importance of conducting impact inspections by identifying hazards, issuing violations, and ensuring that corrective actions were taken to protect miners’ health and safety,” said Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Chris Williamson. “In 2024, the Biden-Harris administration will continue to focus on good jobs, including ensuring that miners are able to return home each day to their families and their communities safe and healthy,” Williamson added.

The Excel #5 Mine, an underground coal mine in Varney, Kentucky, was among the mines MSHA inspected in December. MSHA selected the mine for an impact inspection based upon numerous criteria, including enforcement history and plan compliance and examination issues. The mine is operated by Excel Mining. The inspection identified 20 violations, including nine S&S and two unwarrantable failure findings. Specifically, MSHA inspectors found the following conditions existed at the Excel #5 mine:

  • Failure to remove accumulation of combustible material. Combustible material accumulation was the most cited condition during this inspection. MSHA continues to remind operators of the importance of controlling the accumulation of combustible material to prevent fires and explosions.
  • Failure to maintain equipment in permissible condition was the second-most frequently cited condition during this inspection. These conditions exposed miners to explosion hazards due to exposed ignition sources.
  • Inadequate workplace examinations. Inadequate examinations have contributed to fatal mine accidents and disabling injuries and were identified as a root cause in several mining fatalities the industry suffered in 2023. MSHA has placed a priority on improving workplace examinations including the identification, correction and documentation of hazardous conditions to ensure miners’ safety and health.
  • Other serious violations included not adequately supporting roof and ribs and inoperable fire warning devices.

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.

Original article published by MSHA

Look at your training, MSHA tells mine operators at close of 2023

Christopher Williamson
Photo: US Department of Labor

Arlington, VA — Miner inexperience contributed significantly to what Mine Safety and Health Administration head Chris Williamson called an “unacceptable trend” of industry deaths in 2023.

MSHA recorded 40 miner deaths last year, the highest total in the past nine years. Around 3 out of 5 of the miners had spent less than two years at the mine, and half had less than 10 years of total mining experience.

The agency is calling on mine operators to reexamine their training – while acknowledging that federal training regulations carry specific minimal time frames.

“Does that mean the miner is adequately trained and fully ready to go in all cases at all times? Maybe, maybe not,” MSHA’s Brian Goepfert said during a Dec. 6 conference call for industry stakeholders.

“It’s an individual thing,” continued Goepfert, who is administrator of mine safety and health enforcement at the agency. “Miners of different generations learn by different means, and that’s where you really have to take a deep dive into each individual training plan at your mine and see if it’s effective.

“Is the message getting to the miner? Do they understand it? And can they demonstrate they understand it? That’s the key to training.”

MSHA reported 30 miner fatalities in 2022 after recording 38 in 2021, ending a six-year run in which fewer than 30 miners died on the job. At the time of the call, 14 of the 38 fatalities recorded by MSHA in 2023 were related to machinery, and 10 were attributed to powered haulage.

“This year, the mining industry has experienced a troubling increase in fatal mining accidents,” Williamson said. “As I explained in an open letter to the mining community earlier this year, MSHA is going to continue to use all its tools to combat this unacceptable trend.”

Williamson also addressed MSHA efforts to advance a long-awaited rule that would lower the agency’s permissible exposure limit to respirable crystalline silica.

Published Dec. 6, the Department of Labor’s Fall 2023 regulatory agenda indicated the rule has moved to the final stage from the proposed rule stage.

The rule would lower the permissible exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air – half the current limit – over an 8-hour time-weighted average. It also would increase silica sampling and enforcement at mines.

During the call, Williamson thanked people who provided comments during the proposed rule stage and attended any of MSHA’s three public hearings on the rule.

“At the end of the day – as the agency has said in the proposed rule and as I’ve said – the existing standards are not adequately protecting miners from silica,” Williamson said, “and we need to move forward on putting in place a more protective standard.”


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

NIOSH announces winners of mine technology awards

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Photo: olegback/iStockphoto

Washington — Four organizations recently earned recognition from NIOSH for their use of technology and creativity to advance miner safety and health.

The 2023 NIOSH Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovations Awards were presented for the following categories:
Industrial minerals: Imerys was honored for redesigning a packing station and installing lift devices to mitigate repetitive-motion injuries related to lifting, as well as shoulder, arm and wrist twisting. NIOSH says the improvements “made a genuine difference in the working experience” while increasing the efficiency of the packing process.
Coal: Innovative Wireless Technologies and Arch Resources Inc. shared the award after collaborating on a next-generation wireless gas monitor that uses a multi-sensor platform. The tool produced real-time situational awareness and visibility of atmospheric conditions.
Metal: Hecla Mining reduced the all-injury frequency rate at its Lucky Friday Mine by more than half via the “underhand closed bench” mining method. The innovation, NIOSH said, improved proactive control of fault-slip seismicity in deep, high-stress, narrow-vein mining.

“Whenever private companies address health and safety issues with innovative approaches, everyone wins,” Steve Sawyer, director of the NIOSH Mining Program’s Pittsburgh Mining Research Division, said in a press release. “In mining, each operation has its own unique challenges, and solutions to these challenges need to be tailored to each mine.”

NIOSH presented the awards in conjunction with the Essential Minerals Association and the National Mining Association.


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

MSHA completed impact inspections at 14 mines with histories of repeated safety, health violations in November 2023

Inspections resulted in 52 significant, substantial and 6 unwarrantable failure findings

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that its Mine Safety and Health Administration completed impact inspections at 14 mines in 10 states in November 2023, issuing 184 violations and one safeguard.

The agency began impact inspections after an April 2010 explosion in West Virginia at the Upper Big Branch Mine killed 29 miners.

To date, MSHA’s impact inspections in 2023 have identified 2,491 violations, including 706 significant and substantial and 52 unwarrantable failure findings. An S&S violation is one that is reasonably likely to cause a reasonably serious injury or illness. Violations designated as unwarrantable failures occur when an inspector finds aggravated conduct that constitutes more than ordinary negligence.

The agency conducts impact inspections at mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to poor compliance history; previous accidents, injuries, and illnesses; and other compliance concerns. Of the 184 violations MSHA identified in November, 52 were evaluated as S&S and six had unwarrantable failure findings. The agency completed these inspections at mines in Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

“The November 2023 impact inspection results show yet again the value of these inspections in identifying violations of mandatory safety and health standards,” said Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Chris Williamson. “But it is troubling that the findings of November’s impact inspections closely mirror those of others in 2023.”

“The Mine Act makes clear that the ultimate responsibility for the safety and health of miners lies with mine operators. MSHA will continue to publish the results of impact inspections and urges mine operators to take proactive steps to make certain they are protecting miners from injuries or fatalities. We are all troubled by the mining industry’s trend of increased fatalities this year. MSHA has worked to leverage all the tools Congress gave the agency – outreach, education and enforcement – to protect miners and will continue to look for ways to work together with the entire mining community in reversing this trend,” Williamson added.

The Hazen Mine in Hazen, North Dakota, was among the mines MSHA inspected in November. Selected given its enforcement history, the mine is operated by North Dakota Proppant. The inspection identified 30 violations, including 10 S&S and five unwarrantable failure findings. Specifically, MSHA inspectors found the following conditions existed at the Hazen mine:

  • Failure to provide and maintain guarding around moving machine parts. Overall, inspectors cited inadequate guarding most frequently during this inspection. The lack of appropriate protection from moving machine parts can contribute to fatal mine accidents and disabling injuries to miners.
  • Failure to provide safe access to working areas was the second-most frequently cited violation during this inspection. These conditions exposed miners to potential fall hazards. Earlier in 2023, MSHA issued a safety alert regarding the dangers associated with working at heights. The agency continues to remind operators and contractors of best practices for preventing falls, such as designing an effective fall prevention and protection program as well as providing task training.
  • Other serious violations including housekeeping violations, lack of berms around water, and equipment defects that were not corrected in a timely manner.

McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by MSHA

MSHA – Mine Fatality #37

MINE FATALITY – On November 13, 2023, a pit wall collapsed engulfing an excavator operator while he was outside of the excavator.

Accident scene where a pit wall collapsed engulfing an excavator operator while he was outside of the excavator.
Photo property of MSHA

Best Practices

  • Use appropriate mining methods when the material is steeper than its angle of repose.
    o    Install appropriate benches and trenches when necessary.
    o    Scale highwalls to eliminate hazards, e.g., steep slopes or overhangs.
  • 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 miners.
  • Train miners to assess risks and hazards and correct or barricade hazards to prevent access before beginning work activities.

Additional Information

This is the 37th fatality reported in 2023, and the first classified as “Fall of Face, Rib, Side or Highwall.”


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by MSHA

MSHA announces final rule to protect miners from surface mobile equipment-related accidents, injuries, fatalities

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a final rule from its Mine Safety and Health Administration to help protect miners from accidents, injuries and fatalities related to surface mobile equipment. 

The rule requires mine operators to have written safety programs for surface mobile equipment — excluding belt conveyors — at surface mines and underground mines’ surface areas. The programs must include input from miners and their representatives and identify hazards and risks.

In recent years, powered haulage equipment and machinery have been the leading causes of serious and fatal mine accidents. The final rule aligns with MSHA’s overall effort to improve safety in equipment use. So far in 2023, 40 mining industry workers have suffered fatal injuries, including 16 classified as machinery and 10 classified as powered haulage fatalities.

“Given the number of serious and fatal machinery and powered haulage accidents that have occurred in recent years, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has worked hard to issue this final rule to enhance safety protections for miners working with and around surface mobile equipment,” said Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Chris Williamson. “As MSHA works with the entire mining community to implement the new rule, we strongly encourage everyone to prioritize training and to identify and eliminate machinery and powered haulage hazards that can put miners’ lives and livelihoods at risk.”

Earlier this year, Assistant Secretary Williamson sent an open letter to the mining community, noting MSHA will continue to use all its tools to combat the unacceptable upward trend in fatalities. The letter also announced an inaugural “Stand Down to Save Lives” event to encourage the nation’s mining community to take steps to prevent injuries and illnesses.

Other MSHA initiatives to combat the number of mining accidents, injuries, and fatalities in machinery, powered haulage equipment and other areas include safety and health alerts, the “Take Time, Save Lives” campaignPowered Haulage Equipment Guidance, and an Enhanced Enforcement Program.

District managers will discuss compliance assistance for the mining industry at stakeholder meetings beginning in January 2024.


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by MSHA

National Miners Day

Photo: MSHA

National Miners Day Honors America’s Miners

Each year on Dec. 6, we celebrate National Miners Day to recognize and applaud the skill, dedication and hard work miners put into providing many of the products essential to fulfilling America’s most vital needs.


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by MSHA