OSHA and MSHA partner on poster and infographic on preventing heat illness

Original article published by Safety+Health
mining-workers.jpg

Photo: OSHA

Washington — A new poster and infographic from OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration offer best practices to help mine operators and workers prevent heat illness and heat-related hazards.

To start, the agencies recommend easing into work to build tolerance to heat. Almost 3 out of 4 fatalities related to heat illness occur during the first week of work, the poster states.

Other guidance:

  • Provide workers with heat stress training.
  • Implement mine planning, ventilation and air conditioning to reduce heat, when possible.
  • Promote reasonably short work periods and provide frequent rest breaks in cool areas.
  • Wear a hat and light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing, when possible.
  • Drink at least 1 cup of cool water every 20 minutes, even if you aren’t thirsty.

Signs of heat illness include headache, nausea, dizziness, heavy sweating and elevated body temperature. Workers experiencing these symptoms shouldn’t be left alone and should be provided with water in a cool rest area.

If a worker exhibits abnormal thinking or behavior, slurred speech, seizures, or loss of consciousness, call 911 right away and use water or ice to cool the worker immediately. Remain with the worker until help arrives.

The agencies encourage mine operators and workers to use and distribute the poster and infographic.


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.

Winter Safety Checklist for Mines

Original article published by U.S Department of Labor

A light snowfall blankets surface equipment at a mine, including silos and a conveyor system.

Photo: U.S Department of Labor

At the Mine Safety and Health Administration, we are urging miners and mine operators to stay alert during winter months when cold temperatures increase safety hazards. Are these best practices being followed at your mine site?

For surface mines:

✔️ Clear snow and ice from roads and walkways

✔️ Apply sand or salt to walkways to improve traction

✔️ Wear footgear that grips

✔️ Check for slip and trip hazards

✔️ Maintain equipment to operate safely in cold weather

✔️ Drive slowly and keep space between vehicles

✔️ Examine equipment for exhaust leaks

✔️ Always wear your seatbelt

✔️ Check the integrity of highwalls, benches and roadways, especially after each rain, freeze or thaw

 

In addition to the list above, coal mines should:

✔️ Properly support roof and be aware of changing roof conditions

✔️ Properly ventilate the mine

✔️ Keep clean all combustible materials in mine

✔️ Apply liberal amounts of rock dust

✔️ Conduct frequent examinations

 

Help keep yourself and other miners safe by printing a winter safety checklist poster for your workplace or using our winter alert graphics in email messages and on social media and websites, available at msha.gov/winter-safety.

For tips on keeping workers safe from cold stress and related hazards, visit the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s winter weather webpage.

Many mining injuries and fatalities could be prevented with proper training and attention to tasks. Review best practices for common hazards at msha.gov/take-time-save-lives, and report accidents and hazardous conditions at 1-800-746-1553 or AskMSHA@dol.gov.


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.

Health Alert: Respirable Crystalline Silica

Original article published by MSHA

PDF icon health-hazard-alert-silicadust .pdf

Silicosis is a disabling, nonreversible, and sometimes fatal lung disease caused by overexposure to respirable crystalline silica.

Miner Health Matters MSHA logo
Best Practices:

What can Metal/Nonmetal and Coal Mine Operators do to prevent silicosis?

1.    Perform air monitoring of worksites.  Monitoring will determine:

  • effectiveness of engineering controls
  • need for additional work practices to reduce dust levels; and
  • proper respiratory protection needed

2.    Install and maintain engineering controls to reduce the amount of silica in the air. Examples of controls include:

  • exhaust ventilation
  • increase face ventilation: both velocity and quantity
  • dry dust collection systems
  • water sprays
  • wet drilling or suppression
  • supply vacuums with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters; and
  • enclosed cabs

3.    Administrative controls are the second line of defense for minimizing silica exposures. These controls include:

  • practice preventative maintenance:  clean and maintain equipment
  • practice good housekeeping: don’t dry sweep to clean up
  • use wet cleaning methods, or vacuums with HEPA filters to remove dust from floors and surfaces; and
  • train miners about engineering controls and work practices that reduce dust, and the importance of maintenance and good housekeeping

4.    Provide miners with appropriately selected, properly fitted, and NIOSH approved respirators, as engineering controls are installed or updated.

  • make sure respirators are kept clean and properly maintained and that miners are trained in their use

A comprehensive source of dust controls and practices can be found at:   https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/features/dustcontrolhandbooks.html


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 ‘actively working’ on a proposed rule on silica, Williamson says

Original article published by Safety + Health
Christopher-Williamson.jpg
Photo: US Department of Labor

Arlington, VA — The Mine Safety and Health Administration is “actively working” toward publishing a proposed rule on respirable crystalline silica, agency administrator Chris Williamson said Oct. 20.

The Department of Labor’s Spring 2022 regulatory agenda – published in June – showed MSHA’s intent to publish in September a notice of proposed rulemaking on silica. During a conference call for agency stakeholders, Williamson didn’t offer an updated timetable during the call but said the rule “is one of the top priorities” at the agency.

“Right now in this country, there’s only one worker population that does not have a certain level of protection when it comes to silica, and that is miners. Right now, under our existing standards, the permissible exposure limit (100 micrograms per cubic meter of air) is double what every other worker in this country has. So I just want to put that out there, that people know that’s the reality. We’re working very hard on an improved health standard that we think will make a difference and will definitely better protect miners.”

During the call, MSHA Chief of Health Gregory Meikle cited NIOSH-supported data that contends silica dust can be up to 20 times more toxic than other dusts. Meikle called on stakeholders to tailor existing best practices toward their individual mines and mine activities.

“Some of the levels we’re seeing on overexposures, we’ve got to get proactive if we’re going to protect miners,” Meikle said.


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 awards nearly $1M in mine safety training grants

Original article published by MSHA

 

Brookwood-Sago grants seek to make mining safe for workers, operators 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the award of $985,284 in grants to support the development and delivery of education and training by 10 organizations that will help identify, avoid and prevent unsafe working conditions in, and around the nation’s mines.

Supported by the Brookwood-Sago Mine Safety grant program, recipients will create training materials, promote and conduct mine safety training or educational programs, and evaluate their effectiveness. The awards align with the department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration’s emphasis on targeting programs and materials for smaller mines and the miners working at them. MSHA is seeking to educate miners and industry employers about new federal standards, and high-risk activities or hazards the agency identifies.

“The Mine Safety and Health Administration exists to protect the safety and health of the nation’s miners,” said Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Chris Williamson. “The tragedies at the Brookwood and Sago mines are stark reminders of the risks miners face on the job. The grants we’re awarding today will support critically important training and education that the people working in our mines need and deserve.”

Established under the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006, the program honors 25 miners who died in mine disasters at the Jim Walter Resources #5 mine in Brookwood, Alabama, in 2001, and at the Sago Mine in Buckhannon, West Virginia, in 2006.

The recipients Brookwood-Sago grants in fiscal year 2022 are as follows:

  • University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa received $158,962, to develop training materials for a three-hour, instructor-led course to raise workplace hazards awareness among new, inexperienced surface mine operators.
  • Arizona Board of Regents at the University of Arizona in Tucson received $157,936, for comprehensive training, assessment and compliance reporting tools in its “SMARTer Training: A Data-Driven, Collaborative Toolkit to Improve Training and Reporting Outcomes for Contractors and Small Mine Operators” project.
  • Hutchinson Community College in Kansas received $100,300, for hazard recognition training materials to include virtual reality simulation and traditional materials to train Kansas and Nebraska miners.
  • Southeast Community and Technical College in Cumberland, Kentucky, received $82,438 to develop, market, deliver and evaluate Parts 46 and 48 coal and metal nonmetal Powered Haulage and Mobile Equipment Safety Training.
  • United Mine Workers of America Career Centers Inc. in Prosperity, Pennsylvania, received $55,046 to develop a bilingual “Miners’ Statutory Rights Awareness” training program to complement existing miner’s statutory rights training that may be used to either inform new miners or reinforce the understanding of experienced miners of their legal rights under U.S. laws and regulations and the appropriate response(s) if they encounter unsafe or unhealthy working conditions.
  • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City received $120,000, to develop virtual reality training, interactive training materials and New Miner Training Program focused on prevention of unsafe conditions in mines, bring awareness to hazards and preparedness.
  • Western Dakota Technical College, also in Rapid City received $109,945 for training focused on power haulage and mobile equipment safety, and mine emergency prevention and preparedness.
  • The University of Texas at Arlington received $50,000 for training materials focused on identifying fall hazards and best practices in reducing minors’ workplace injuries and fatalities; and to develop fall prevention training for miners.
  • Virginia Department of Energy in Big Stone Gap received $50,000 to enhance the virtual reality training to simulate conditions at mine sites to help identify, avoid and prevent unsafe working conditions and avoid unsafe acts, in and around mines with the potential to cause accidents in the workplace.
  • West Virginia Research Corp. in Morgantown received $100,657, to provide emergency prevention and preparedness training to coal miners and coal mine operators in mine rescue training and dry chemical fire training to respond to emergencies involving fire in underground 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.

Mine workers and breathing problems

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

East Lansing, MI — A recent study of workers at sand, gravel and stone mines in Michigan found a higher number of doctor visits for shortness of breath compared with workers in other production industries.

Researchers at Michigan State University examined lung disease as well as exposure to silica, various allergens and other irritants among more than 1,200 surface mine workers from around the state. They asked the workers, who each had at least 15 years of experience, to complete a questionnaire and provided them with free chest X-rays and breathing tests.

Results showed “an increased prevalence of seeing a doctor for shortness of breath, possible work-related asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” according to an MSU press release. In the release, lead study author Hailey TenHarmsel, a research assistant in the MSU College of Human Medicine, said the nature of surface mining leaves workers vulnerable to various exposure risks.

Doug Needham is executive director of the Michigan Aggregates Association, which represents 85% of aggregate mining operators in Michigan. “We are making sure the health and safety of the work itself and companies doing air monitoring aren’t exposed to anything,” Needham said. “We put in air monitors on their chest throughout a normal eight-hour day, and at the end of the day, they turn them in and get tested to ensure they weren’t exposed to any limits that will cause them harm.”

The study was published online in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.


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 administrator to miners and operators: Be proactive on preventing silica exposure

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Christopher-Williamson.jpg

Photo: US Department of Labor

Arlington, VA — As the Mine Safety and Health Administration works toward publishing a proposed rule on respirable crystalline silica, agency administrator Chris Williamson is encouraging mine workers and operators to “take proactive measures” to assess silica-related health hazards.

The Department of Labor’s Spring 2022 regulatory agenda, published June 21, shows MSHA’s intent to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking on silica in September. Speaking during a June 28 conference call for industry stakeholders, Williamson called for forward-thinking and action within the mining community in the interim.

OSHA estimates that 2.3 million workers are exposed to silica dust annually. Workers can inhale silica dust during mining and other operations, including cutting, sawing, drilling or crushing materials such as rock and stone. Crystalline silica can damage lung tissue and lead to lung disease, coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or incurable silicosis.

“When miners are repeatedly overexposed to silica levels that are unhealthy, that’s how you develop these diseases,” Williamson said. “Once a miner develops a form of pneumoconiosis, outside of getting a lung transplant, there’s no fix for that. It’s a progressive illness.”

In June, MSHA launched an enforcement initiative intended to increase protections against respirable crystalline silica. Measures include conducting spot inspections at coal and nonmetal mines “with a history of repeated silica overexposures,” expanding sampling at mines, and offering compliance assistance to mine operators.

MSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations Patricia Silvey said during the call that the enforcement initiative is “not meant to be, ‘Gotcha!’”

“It’s not meant to be punitive,” she continued. “It’s really meant to be proactive and remedial, and try to get corrective action … before we even show up.”

A fatality number that ‘really jumps out’

MSHA reported that eight of the 15 fatal on-the-job injuries among miners to date this year have involved workers with one year or less of experience at the mine.

“Whenever we see a number like this, it really jumps out at us and we really want to make sure that training is what it needs to be,” Marcus Smith, chief of MSHA’s Accident Investigations Division, said during the call.

Agency officials discussed several related best practices, including training personnel to:

  • Perform tasks safely and recognize potential hazards.
  • Recognize hazardous highwall conditions.
  • Recognize fall hazards and use fall protection when they exist.
  • Identify hazardous roof and rib 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.

Just a few minutes can prevent accidents and fatalities at mines

First published by MSHA
Take Time Save Lives sticker Seal
Photo property of MSHA

The top priority at MSHA is keeping miners safe. This year we have seen an increase in fatalities and injuries, many of which could have been prevented with proper training and attention to tasks. It is up to mine operators to ensure that miners are fully trained and able to take time to follow best safety practices that can prevent deadly accidents.

To assist mine operators, MSHA has resources available to help train even seasoned miners. At the links below, you will find:

And we will continue to add more resources. If there is something you need that is not available, please let us know using the link on the safety page. We hope you’ll help us get the word out to Take Time, Save Lives, and make sure every miner comes home safe at the end of each shift.

Powered haulage safety

Surface mining vehicles can be several stories tall and are capable of destroying smaller vehicles that cannot be seen by the operator. Traffic controls, training, and avoiding distractions are key to enhancing safety. Collision warning and avoidance systems can also help.

MSHA engineers estimate that three to four miners’ lives could be saved each year if adequate seat belts were provided and worn. Warning systems such as chimes can remind drivers to buckle up, while interlock systems can prevent the vehicle from moving if the belt is unbuckled.

Belt conveyors and their components pose serious risks to miners working on or around them. It’s important to install adequate guarding to prevent contact, provide and use crossovers and cross unders, and lock out energy sources and block motion whenever performing maintenance.

Pillar Collapse Prevention

MSHA has resources available to raise awareness and avoid these accidents at underground mines, particularly limestone mines, that can result in areas where benching has occurred.  Please use resources at this link, including upcoming seminars, papers, presentations and videos, to help you avoid the dangers of pillar collapses.

Fire Suppression Guidance

Adequate task training must be performed so equipment operators and mechanics will be able to maintain equipment, respond correctly to alarms, use fire suppression systems properly, and safely dismount equipment in an emergency.  Mine operators should provide refresher training as needed.

COVID-19


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 Offering $1M in Safety Grants

First published by MSHA

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a funding availability of up to $1 million in grants through its Brookwood-Sago grant program to support education and training to help the mining community identify, avoid and prevent unsafe and unhealthy working conditions in and around the nation’s mines.

Established by the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006, the program’s efforts to make mines safer and healthier honors 25 miners who perished in disasters at the Jim Walter Resources #5 mine in Brookwood, Alabama, in 2001 and at the Sago Mine in Buckhannon, West Virginia, in 2006.

Administered by the department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration, the Brookwood-Sago grants will focus education and training programs on occupational hazards, including:

  • Exposures to respirable dust and crystalline silica.
  • Powered haulage and mobile equipment safety.
  • Mine emergency preparedness and rescue.
  • Electrical safety.
  • Contract and customer truck drivers.
  • Improving training for new and inexperienced miners, and managers and supervisors performing mining tasks.
  • Pillar safety for underground mines.
  • Falls from heights.

The grants may also support programs emphasizing training on miners’ statutory rights, including the right to a safe and healthy working environment, to refuse an unsafe task, and to have a voice in the safety and health conditions at the mine. Recipients may use the grant funding to develop educational and training materials, recruit mine operators and miners for the training, and to conduct and evaluate training.

In awarding the grants, MSHA will give special emphasis to education and training programs that target miners at smaller mines and underserved populations in the mining industry. They will also prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion.

Learn more or submit a grant application. The closing date for applications is Aug. 23, 2022. MSHA will award grants on or before Sept. 30, 2022. Learn more about MSHA.


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.

MSHA Finds Illinois Mine Operator Tried to Conceal Underground Fire

First published by MSHA

MSHA finds M-Class Mining didn’t tell miners of a dangerous fire hazard, continued operations

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration has proposed nearly $1.2 million in civil penalties to M-Class Mining LLC, a Macedonia, Illinois, coal mine operator. MSHA cited the operator for continuing to operate the mine without evacuating miners with a fire underground and failing to notify MSHA of the fire. The fire broke out on a longwall section on Aug. 13, 2021.

Late on the morning of Aug. 14, 2021, after learning of the unextinguished fire through an anonymous complaint, MSHA issued an order to withdraw all miners from the mine and began an accident investigation. The investigation found that the operator allowed continued coal production and did not take immediate actions to protect the safety and health of miners.

Specifically, MSHA inspectors determined M-Class Mining LLC failed to follow the approved Mine Emergency Evacuation and Firefighting Program and evacuate the miners; did not notify MSHA within 15 minutes of the fire’s start as the law requires; and failed to fully comply with federal orders to withdraw miners from the mine.

“M-Class Mining LLC deliberately jeopardized the lives of the very miners it was responsible for protecting, and violated numerous important safety and health standards in the process,” said Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Chris Williamson. “The fact that this operator continued business as usual while miners underground had no idea there was an ongoing fire hazard more than justifies the civil penalties that we propose.”

MSHA issued 14 citations to the M-Class mine, including 10 related to the operator’s reckless disregard for the miners’ safety and health. Two of the 10 proposed citations are flagrant: for the operator not evacuating the mine when the fire was located, and for allowing miners to work underground without being tracked by the mine tracking system. A flagrant violation may be assessed the highest penalty allowed by law.

MSHA has assessed $1,165,396 in proposed penalties for the violations.

M-Class Mining LLC has 30 days to pay or contest the violation or penalties to the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission.


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.