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.

Powered Haulage Accidents – Safety Alert

First published by MSHA

Stop Powered Haulage Accidents: Stay Alert!  Stay Alive!

  • Fatalities and accidents involving mobile equipment: shuttle cars, scoops, locomotives, front end loaders, haulage equipment, service and pickup trucks continue to occur at a disproportionate high rate.
Powered Haulage Accidents
Photo property of MSHA.gov
Best Practices:
  • Know where in the workplace others are and communicate with them: use radios, mirrors, cameras, headlights, strobe warning lights, horns, and buggy-whip flags.  Stay clear of mobile equipment blind spots.
  • Set mobile equipment parking brakes and chock the wheels when vehicles are unattended:  Don’t stand, walk or work directly downhill of parked vehicles.  Stay clear of moving vehicles.
  • Establish safe traffic patterns and rules: post signage, ensure rules are followed, adhere to speed limits and approach intersections with caution.
  • Use proximity detection/collision avoidance systems.
  • Ensure that seat belts are maintained in good condition and worn at all times.
  • Ensure that conveyors are deenergized, locked, tagged and blocked against motion before removing guards or beginning work.

*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.

MSHA – Mine Fatality #13

First published by MSHA

MINE FATALITY – On June 2, 2021, a 26-year-old section foreman with five years of mining experience was pinned against a continuous mining machine by a piece of rib. The piece fell while he was installing a rib bolt with the machine mounted rib drill.

accident scene where the foreman with five years of mining experience was pinned against a continuous mining machine by a piece of rib. The piece fell while he was installing a rib bolt with the machine mounted rib drill
Photo property of MSHA.gov
Best Practices:
  • Support loose roof and rib material adequately or scale loose material from a safe location before working or traveling in an area.
  • Examine the roof, face and ribs immediately before starting work in an area and throughout the shift as conditions warrant.
  • Take additional safety precautions when mining heights increase and in areas where mine conditions change.
  • Train miners to recognize roof and rib hazards and to stop work in the area until the hazards are corrected.
Additional Information:

This is the 13th fatality reported in 2021, and the first classified as “Fall of Face, Rib, Side or Highwall”


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, 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.