MSHA Offering $1M in Safety Grants

First published by MSHA.

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration announced today the availability of up to $1 million to fund grants to support education and training to help mine workers identify, avoid and prevent unsafe working conditions.

The funding, made available by the department’s Brookwood-Sago grant program, will enable grant recipients to develop training materials, provide mine safety training or educational programs, recruit mine operators and miners for training, and conduct and evaluate training. The amount of each individual grant will be at least $50,000, and the maximum individual award will be up to $1 million.

Administered by MSHA, the 2021 selection process will include special consideration for programs that focus on powered haulage (in particular, reducing vehicle-on-vehicle collisions, increasing seat belt use and improving belt conveyor safety), improving safety among contractors, reducing electrocutions, improving training for new and inexperienced miners, mine emergency prevention and preparedness, falls from equipment, respiratory hazards and other programs to prevent unsafe conditions in mines.

MSHA will also place special emphasis on programs and materials that target miners at smaller mines, including training miners and employers about new MSHA standards, high-risk activities or hazards MSHA identifies.

Visit grants.gov to apply for the Brookwood-Sago grants. Applications must be received by May 27, 2021. MSHA will award grants on or before Sept. 30, 2021.

The Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 established the Brookwood-Sago grant program in honor of the 25 miners who died at the Jim Walter Resources #5 mine in Brookwood, Alabama, in 2001 and at the Sago Mine in Buckhannon, West Virginia, in 2006.


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 #6

First published by MSHA.

MINE FATALITY – On March 5, 2021, a miner was fatally injured when the excavator he was operating rolled over into a body of water.

Accident scene where a miner was fatally injured when the excavator he was operating rolled over into a body of water.
Best Practices:
  • Construct berms or install guardrails on roadways where a drop-off exists.  Ensure berms and guardrails are at least as high as the mid-axle height of the largest equipment using the roadway.
  • Examine and maintain roadways to prevent slope instability such as over steepened banks, sloughs, and cracking on the roadway and bank.
  • Install locked gates at the entrances of roadways that are infrequently traveled.  Post speed limit signs and install delineators at the edges of roads.
  • Always wear seatbelts when operating mobile equipment.
  • When working near water, wear flotation devices and ensure combination seat belt cutter/window breaker tools are installed in equipment.  See safety alert https://www.msha.gov/news-media/alerts-hazards/mnm-safety-alert-water-related-safety.
  • Train equipment operators in the safe performance of their tasks, potential hazards, and the use of alternative/emergency exits in cabs.  Examine these exits during pre-operational examinations.
Additional Information:

This is the sixth fatality reported in 2021, and the second 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 #5

First published by MSHA.

MINE FATALITY – On Feb. 25, 2021, a 26-year old plant operator died after entering a cyclone discharge box.  The local fire department recovered the victim lodged in an 18-inch wide discharge pipe that was full of water.

Accident scene where a 26-year old plant operator died after entering a cyclone discharge box.
Best Practices:
  • Wear a fall protection harness, properly tie off to a permanent support structure, and attach a lifeline when entering a bin or other confined space.  Have a second person monitor the lifeline to make sure there is no slack in the fall protection system.
  • Use personnel lifts or ladders to safely access elevated work areas.
  • Always use fall protection when there’s a potential fall hazard.
  • Examine work areas and equipment.  Report defects and do not use unsafe work equipment.
  • Assess risks and hazards before beginning maintenance activities.
  • Train miners to safely perform their tasks and properly use their personal protective equipment.
Additional Information:

This is the fifth fatality reported in 2021, and the first classified as “Slip or Fall of Person.”


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.

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.

U.S. Department of Labor Announces Proposed Rule Adopting Standards For Electric Motor-Driven Mine Equipment and Accessories

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Arlington, VA — A recently proposed rule from the Mine Safety and Health Administration would revise testing, evaluation and approval regulations for mine equipment and accessories powered by electric motors intended for use in environments with gases.

The proposed rule, published in the Nov. 19 Federal Register, would establish a one-year transition period in which mine operators may use equipment and accessories that satisfy either 14 voluntary consensus standards or the existing MSHA approval requirements.

Mine operators would thereafter be required to “use the consensus standards for equipment and accessories covered by consensus standards,” a Nov. 18 agency press release states. MSHA contends the proposal is aimed at promoting the use of advanced technologies that will foster improved mine safety and health, as well as enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the agency’s approval process.

“MSHA believes that a 12-month transition period will provide manufacturers, approval holders and applicants enough time to make design and build changes necessary to meet the required specifications of the VCS for new applications,” the proposed rule states.

The American National Standards Institute, the International Electrotechnical Commission, the International Society of Automation and UL LLC developed the VCS outlined in the proposed rule, which covers equipment such as:

  • Portable two-way radios
  • Remote control units for mining machinery
  • Longwall mining systems
  • Portable oxygen detectors
  • Miner-wearable components for proximity detection systems
  • Powered air-purifying respirators

The National Mining Association supports the proposed rule.

“The industry has long advocated for updates to the standards, which limit companies’ ability to use the latest available technologies to create safer mine environments,” NMA President and CEO Rich Nolan said in a Nov. 18 press release. “Current standards have resulted in a backlog of superior technologies awaiting MSHA approvals, even as those technologies are being used successfully in mines elsewhere around the world or by other occupations in the U.S.

“The proposed updates will allow us to provide the best available protection for miners through a more efficient and effective process. Put simply, this translates into people being safer sooner.”

Comments are due Dec. 21.


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

DOL OIG recommends MSHA lower exposure limit for silica

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — The Department of Labor Office of Inspector General is advising the Mine Safety and Health Administration to lower its legal exposure limit for silica, among other recommendations, in a report released Nov. 16.

MSHA’s silica exposure limit of 100 micrograms per cubic meter of air was established more than 50 years ago and is out of date, the report states. OSHA has since lowered its silica exposure limit to 50 micrograms per cubic meter, but “both OSHA and NIOSH warned that 50 μg/m³ is the lowest feasible limit, not the safest.”

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,” the report notes. More than three times as many coal miners were identified as having black lung disease from 2010 to 2014, compared with 1995 to 1999.

“The evidence indicates respirable crystalline silica may be responsible for this increase,” DOL OIG says.

DOL OIG also recommends that MSHA establish a separate standard to allow the agency to issue citations and monetary penalties for silica exposure limit violations. Further, 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 dated Oct. 27, MSHA administrator David 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 the agency 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 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: ‘No changes are necessary’ to criteria for certifying coal mine rescue teams

Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) | Protecting Miners' Safety and Health Since 1978
Photo property of MSHA.gov

Arlington, VA — Criteria for the certification of coal mine rescue teams will “remain in effect, without changes,” the Mine Safety and Health Administration announced Sept. 1, after completing a requisite review under the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act of 2006.

MSHA revised the guidelines of the MINER Act in December 2013. Certification criteria for mine rescue teams outlined under Title 30 CFR Part 49.50 state that members must:

  • Receive proper annual training.
  • Be familiar with the operations of each covered mine.
  • Participate in at least two local mine rescue contests each year.
  • Complete mine rescue training at each covered mine.
  • Be knowledgeable about the operations and ventilation of each covered mine.

The MINER Act requires MSHA to review the certification criteria every five years.

“After a review of these criteria, MSHA has determined that these criteria are still appropriate and that no changes are necessary,” the agency states.


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

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

Working near belt conveyors: Recent deaths spur MSHA safety alert

Lock Out Tag Out Procedures Archives - Mine Safety Center

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Arlington, VA — Spurred by numerous fatalities related to the hazards of working near belt conveyors, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a safety alert.

Published on Sept. 3, the alert states that eight fatalities involving belt conveyors have occurred in the industry since Jan. 26, 2017. Six involved miners working near a moving conveyor, and two occurred during maintenance on an idle conveyor.

“All of these fatalities could have been prevented with proper lockout/tagout and blocking against motion before working,” the alert states.

MSHA details the most recent incident, which occurred in December and remains under investigation. A miner was fatally injured after removing a splice pin from a mainline conveyor that was caught between the belt and frame of the belt tailpiece.

The agency lists multiple best practices for working safely near belt conveyors, including:

  • Identify, isolate and control stored mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and gravitational energy.
  • Effectively block the belt conveyor to prevent movement in either direction.
  • Relieve belt tension by releasing energy at the take up/belt storage system. Remember: Some tensile energy might still exist.
  • Position belt splice in an area of safe access to avoid pinch points.
  • De-energize electrical power, and lock and tag the main disconnect before beginning maintenance. Permit only the person who installed a lock and tag to remove them – and only after completing the work.
  • Never lock out start and stop controls or belt switches, as they don’t disconnect power conductors.

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

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.