Creating workplaces where we all watch out for each other

Creating workplaces where we all watch out for each other

Operating Equipment Near Water – Safety Alert

Safety Alert 

Operating Equipment Near Water 

From 2010 through 2023, there were 19 drowning accidents. Eleven of these fatal accidents occurred when mobile equipment, operating near water, became submerged. When working near water mine operators should:

  • Conduct workplace examinations and eliminate hazardous conditions.
  • Keep mobile equipment a safe distance from the water’s edge.
  • Ensure miners wear a seatbelt when operating mobile equipment.

Emergency underwater breathing devices are commercially available, and they come in all different shapes and sizes. If made available and miners are properly trained, these devices can potentially increase miners’ chances of survival if they fall into water.

 

Eleven of these fatal accidents occurred when mobile equipment, operating near water, became submerged.
Best Practices
  • Provide emergency underwater breathing devices to miners with risk of falling into water.
  • Train miners in the use of underwater breathing devices in case of an emergency.
  • Keep water rescue equipment easily accessible.
  • To assist miners in exiting a submerged cab, develop an underwater emergency egress kit which may include a nose clip, mask, underwater breathing device, PFD, and glass breaking device.
  • Provide and ensure miners wear a Coast Guard approved Type I or Type V personal flotation device (PFD).

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

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

MSHA – Mine Fatality #39

MINE FATALITY – On December 14, 2023, a miner died while preparing to repair flanges on the feed box. In the process of lowering the chute into the maintenance position, the chute pinned the miner between the chute and the handrail.

Accident scene where a miner died while preparing to repair flanges on the feed box.
Photo property of MSHA
Best Practices
  • Block machinery components against motion before beginning maintenance or repairs and verify miners are in a safe location before moving equipment and components.
  • Examine work areas during the shift for hazards that could be created while performing the work.
  • When conducting a non-routine task, review safe procedures before starting work and ensure all safety components are in place.
  • Do not work under suspended loads.
Additional Information

This is the 39th fatality reported in 2023, and the 15th 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.

Original article published by MSHA

MSHA – Mine Fatality #40

MINE FATALITY – On December 14, 2023, a contractor died while delivering parts to the mine when an all-terrain telehandler pulling cable, tipped over, striking him.

Accident scene where a contractor died while delivering parts to the mine when an all-terrain telehandler pulling cable, tipped over, striking him.
Photo property of MSHA
Best Practices
  • Do not exceed the load radius and load limits of lifting equipment.
  • Ensure miners position themselves in a safe manner while working around equipment.
  • Barricade and sign affected areas in case equipment or loads fail or tip.
  • Ensure visitors entering the mine receive site specific hazard awareness training.
  • Maintain good communication between co-workers.
Additional Information

This is the 40th fatality reported in 2023, and the 16th classified as “Machinery.”


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 final rule on respirable crystalline silica under White House review

Washington — A long-anticipated Mine Safety and Health Administration final rule intended to lower miners’ exposure to silica has been sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.

Advancing a rule to OMB, which is under the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, is one of the final steps in the regulatory process.

The rule would lower the PEL 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 metal and nonmetal mines.

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 black lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or incurable silicosis.

OSHA estimates that 2.3 million workers are exposed to silica dust annually.

The rule has been under OMB review since Jan. 12. A proposal was published on July 13.

“The purpose of this … rule is simple – to better protect miners from exposure to silica so they do not have to suffer from entirely preventable debilitating and deadly occupational illnesses,” MSHA head Chris Williamson says on an agency webpage for silica rulemaking. “Silica overexposures have a real-life impact on a miner’s health.”

During a Jan. 25, 2023, conference call with MSHA stakeholders, Williamson discussed the path the rulemaking has taken since first appearing in the Spring 1998 regulatory agenda. The agency at that time forecasted a proposed silica rule would be in place in December 1998, he said.


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