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.

US Department of Labor to hold public hearing on proposed rule to improve safe use of mobile, powered-haulage mining equipment

First published by MSHA

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor will reopen the rulemaking record and hold a virtual public hearing on Jan. 11, 2022, on the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s proposed rule for Safety Program for Surface Mobile Equipment to improve safe usage of mobile, powered-haulage equipment. This proposed rule is one of several actions MSHA has taken to reduce fatal and nonfatal injuries involving surface mobile equipment used at mines, and to improve safety and health.

On Sept. 9, 2021, MSHA published the proposed rule that would require mine operators employing six or more miners to develop a written safety program for mobile and powered haulage equipment (excluding belt conveyors) at surface mines and surface areas of underground mines.

In response to a public request, MSHA will hold the hearing and reopen the comment period until Feb. 11, 2022, to receive additional comments and data from stakeholders on the proposed rule.

To speak during the virtual public hearing, register by Jan. 10, 2022, at 5 p.m. EST.

Read the proposed rule for Safety Program for Surface Mobile Equipment.

Agency

Mine Safety & Health Administration
Date: December 17, 2021
Release Number 21-2120-NAT

Contact: Denisha Braxton
Phone Number 202-693-5061
Email braxton.denisha.l@dol.gov

Contact: Mandy McClure
Phone Number 202-693-4675
Email McClure.Amanda.C@dol.gov


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: ‘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.

MSHA – Mine Fatality #32

First published by MSHA

MINE FATALITY – On November 17, 2021, a customer truck driver was electrocuted after the tarping mechanism on the trailer contacted a high-voltage overhead power line.  While exiting the cab of the truck, the victim contacted the energized truck and received a nonfatal electrical shock.  When he tried to reenter the cab of the truck, he was electrocuted.

Accident scene where a customer truck driver was electrocuted after the tarping mechanism on the trailer contacted a high voltage overhead power line.
Photo property of MSHA
Best Practices: 
  • Construct roadways to provide adequate width and clearance between mobile equipment and energized high-voltage power lines, as required by the National Electrical Safety Code.  Evaluate clearances periodically to account for changing physical and environmental conditions.
  • Provide and maintain a safe location for truck drivers to tarp their loads.
  • Check for overhead hazards when raising and lowering truck beds and tarps.
  • If your vehicle contacts an energized power line:
    • Stay in your vehicle.
    • Immediately call for help on a mobile phone or radio.
    • If staying in the vehicle is unsafe, jump away from the vehicle without contacting the vehicle and the ground at the same time.  Once on the ground, hop away from the power line for at least 40 feet.
  • Post readily visible warning signs or signals when overhead hazards exist.
Additional Information:

This is the 32nd fatality reported in 2021, and the first classified as “Electrical.”


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.

Biden nominates Christopher Williamson to head MSHA

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
Photo property of MSHA
Washington — President Joe Biden has nominated Christopher Williamson to lead the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

If confirmed, Williamson, senior counsel to National Labor Relations Board Chair Lauren McFerran, would take over for acting administrator Jeannette Galanis. Former coal industry executive David Zatezalo was the agency’s most recent Senate-confirmed leader, serving from November 2017 until this past January.

According to a Nov. 12 White House press release, Williamson, a native of West Virginia, worked at MSHA during the Obama administration, advising the assistant secretary on agency policy, operations and communications. He also served as labor counsel to former Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-IA) and as a legislative assistant to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

“As labor counsel, he advised Chairman Harkin and committee members on labor, occupational and mine safety and health, and black lung benefits and other workers’ compensation issues,” the release states.

Before that, Williamson was an attorney-advisor for Administration Law Judge Jacqueline Bulluck at the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. He earned his law degree from West Virginia University.

Williamson likely will appear before the Senate HELP Committee for a confirmation hearing. At press time, no date had been set.

In a statement released Nov. 12, United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts urges the Senate to confirm Williamson’s nomination as soon as possible.

“Chris Williamson is the most knowledgeable expert on mine safety and health in Washington today,” Roberts said. “His in-depth understanding of what it takes to keep miners safer and healthier at work is unmatched, and I expect that the Mine Safety and Health Administration will be a stronger advocate for miners under his watch.

“Chris comes from a mining background in West Virginia. Making sure that miners come home safely to their families each and every day is part of his very being.”


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.

DOL OIG to audit MSHA’s inspection processes during pandemic

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Photo property of MSHA

Washington — The Department of Labor Office of Inspector General will conduct an audit of the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s ability to complete required safety and health inspections amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an audit notice dated Oct. 29 and addressed to MSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and acting administrator Jeannette Galanis, Carolyn Hantz, assistant inspector general for audit programs, requests copies of inspection reports and various other agency records, policies and procedures. These include:

  • National, regional and district documents applicable to COVID-19 adjustments or other process changes related to mandatory safety and health inspections
  • Criteria for assigning and changing mine status, including any business rules
  • More recent versions or pending changes to the MSHA Program Police Manual, Volume 1; supervisors’ handbooks; the MSHA Centralized Application System user manual; and the Inspection Application System user guide
  • Accountability audits, internal reviews and evaluations issued since Oct. 1, 2017, related to mine status classifications or changes, completion of mandatory inspections, or COVID-19

The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 directs MSHA to inspect underground mines four times annually and surface mines twice a year.

The audit notice indicates that “work is expected to begin immediately” after a meeting between DOL OIG and an MSHA audit liaison “to discuss the audit objective, scope and methodology.”

A DOL spokesperson told Safety+Health that “MSHA is aware of the OIG audit of the COVID-19 impact on MSHA’s mandatory inspection program and will comply with the request for information.”

During a Sept. 29 stakeholder conference call, Galanis said MSHA won’t require COVID-19 vaccination or weekly negative testing at the nation’s mines. She said the Mine Act gives MSHA the authority to issue hygiene-related citations and temporarily shut down mine operations at facilities in which the coronavirus is found to be spreading.

Agency officials on the call also pointed to updated MSHA guidance – issued in March – that advises mine operators at coal, metal and nonmetal mines to establish a virus protection program or augment an existing one. The guidance includes recommendations on the use of personal protective equipment, physical distancing strategies, improving ventilation, effective hygiene and routine cleaning.

“We must be able to inspect mines during COVID,” Galanis said, “and so our mine inspectors are doing their jobs and getting out there and trying to be as careful as possible.”


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 #31

First published by MSHA

MINE FATALITY – On November 1, 2021, an electrician with 25 years of mining experience was fatally injured while traveling down a mine slope.  He lost control of a four-passenger rubber-tired personnel carrier, and the vehicle crashed at the bottom of the slope, pinning the victim underneath.

Accident scene where an electrician with 25 years of mining experience was fatally injured while traveling down a mine slope.
Photo property of MSHA
Best Practices:
  • Immediately remove equipment from service when defects affecting safety are found.
  • Conduct adequate preoperational checks and weekly examinations of mobile electrical equipment.  Correct any defects affecting safety before operating mobile equipment.
  • Maintain control and stay alert when operating mobile equipment.
  • Maintain roadways free of excessive water, mud, and other conditions that impact an equipment operator’s ability to control mobile equipment.
  • Operate mobile equipment at speeds consistent with the conditions of roadways, grades, clearance, and visibility.
  • Never rely on Regenerative Braking as a substitute for keeping brakes properly maintained.
Additional Information:

This is the 31st fatality reported in 2021, and the 12th 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.

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.

MSHA – Mine Fatality #30

First published by MSHA

MINE FATALITY – On October 20, 2021, a 50-year-old mechanic with 12 years of experience was fatally injured when he was struck by the bucket of an excavator while assisting in repositioning a hopper.

Accident scene where
Photo property of MSHA
Best Practices:
  • Never position yourself between mobile equipment and a stationary object.
  • Do not work in pinch points where inadvertent movement could cause injury.
  • Carefully inspect and secure the pins in an excavator’s bucket before each use.
  • Before beginning work, analyze all tasks, establish safe work procedures, train miners, and eliminate hazards.  Be alert for hazards that may be created while the work is performed.
  • Identify and apply methods to protect personnel from hazards associated with the work performed.
  • Monitor all employees to ensure safe work procedures, including safe work positioning, are followed.
Additional Information:

This is the 30th fatality reported in 2021, and the 5th 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.