MSHA – Mine Fatality #23

First published by MSHA.

MINE FATALITY – On Oct. 27, 2020, a miner was digging a hole to install a wooden post for roof control when a section of the roof fell on him.

Accident scene when a section of the roof fell on the victim
Best Practices:
  • Thoroughly examine the roof, face, and ribs where people will be working and traveling, including sound and vibration testing where applicable.
  • Scale loose roof and ribs from a safe location. Prevent access to hazardous areas until appropriate corrective measures can be taken.
  • Set temporary support before installing permanent support.
  • Be alert for changing conditions and report abnormal roof or rib conditions to mine management and other miners.
  • Know and follow the approved roof control plan and provide additional support when cracks or other abnormalities are detected. Remember, the approved roof control plan contains minimum requirements.
  • Propose revisions to the roof control plan to provide measures to control roof hazards.
Additional Information:

This is the 23rd fatality reported in 2020, and the first classified as “Fall of Roof or Back.”


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.

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.

MSHA – Mine Fatality

First published by MSHA.

MINE FATALITY – On August 21, 2020, a truck driver sustained fatal head injuries while he was deploying the automatic tarp on his fifth-wheel side-dump trailer.

Fatality scene where a truck driver sustained fatal head injuries while he was deploying the automatic tarp on his fifth-wheel side-dump trailer
Best Practices:
  • Install and use constant pressure electrical switches to deploy/retract automatic trailer tarps.
  • Inspect and maintain tarping systems routinely to ensure tarping systems function properly.
  • Install signs warning of the hazard of standing near trailers while automatic tarps are deployed/retracted.
  • Train miners on proper tarping techniques to understand the hazards associated with the work being performed.
Additional Information:

This is the sixth fatality classified as “Machinery” since August 21, 2020.


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 #22

First published by MSHA.

MINE FATALITY – On October 19, 2020, an excavator’s bucket struck a plant operator who was standing on the cross beam of a grizzly hopper screen.

Accident scene where an excavator’s bucket struck a plant operator who was standing on the cross beam of a grizzly hopper screen
Best Practices:

•   Never swing buckets over work areas or operator’s compartments.
•   Maintain communication between equipment operators and miners on the ground.
•   Maintain control of equipment while it is in operation.
•   Train miners to safely perform their tasks.

Additional Information:

This is the 22nd fatality reported in 2020, and the seventh 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.

Annual DOL OIG report outlines challenges for OSHA, MSHA

Top-Management-and-Performance-Challenges.jpg

Photo: Department of Labor Office of Inspector General
First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — The COVID-19 pandemic has “exacerbated” the challenges for OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration to use their resources to protect the safety and health of workers, according to the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.

In 2020 DOL Top Management and Performance Challenges, an annual report released Nov. 16, DOL OIG notes that the number of whistleblower complaints has increased during the pandemic while full-time staffing in the OSHA Whistleblower Protection Program has decreased.

MSHA, meanwhile, suspended five of its enforcement activities, including its “accident reduction program,” as of May. The agency also reduced its work in 13 areas, including mine emergency operations, but continued 15 activities at full capacity, including regular safety and health inspections and fatal incident investigations.

“MSHA needs to do more to address the potential backlog of suspended and reduced enforcement activities resulting from the pandemic and develop a plan to manage the backlog once full operations resume,” the report states. “Further, MSHA needs to monitor COVID-19 outbreaks at mines and use that information to determine whether to issue an emergency temporary standard related to the pandemic.”

The report also highlights OSHA’s difficulties in verifying that employers have abated hazards at general industry and construction worksites.

“OSHA needs to complete its initiatives to improve employer reporting of severe injuries and illnesses and enhance staff training on abatement verification, especially of smaller and transient construction employers,” DOL OIG states.

Other challenges noted in the report:

  • A 25-year high in black lung cases and the need to develop strategies to address it. MSHA is studying its August 2014 coal dust rule, but this analysis likely will take a decade or more to be completed, DOL OIG states.
  • Powered-haulage incidents, which accounted for nearly half of mining fatalities in 2017 and 2018. MSHA launched an initiative on the topic in 2018 that includes a website, videos, safety materials and mine-site visits.
  • Both agencies are challenged on how to regulate respirable crystalline silica. As noted in another report released the same day, OSHA and MSHA have different permissible exposure limits.

OSHA revised its National Emphasis Program on respirable silica in February and issued a revised directive for inspection procedures. DOL OIG notes that the agency conducted a webinar for inspectors on how to inspect for silica violations and enforce “various provisions of the new standards.”

“OIG is currently performing an audit to determine the extent OSHA has protected workers from exposure to respirable crystalline silica,” the report states.


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.

DOL OIG releases FY 2021 audit plans for OSHA, MSHA

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Office-of-Audit-Workplan.jpg
Photo: oig.dol.gov

Washington — The Department of Labor Office of Inspector General intends to conduct an audit of the number and types of inspections OSHA is using to protect workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as OSHA’s plans to address future pandemics, according to a fiscal year 2021 audit work plan released Nov. 2.

DOL OIG states that “OSHA has reduced its number of inspections and increased its number of non-formal complaint investigations.” OSHA was named in a lawsuit filed by meatpacking employees in July, the document adds.

The audit is among DOL OIG’s seven OSHA-focused discretionary audits – including four related to COVID-19 – planned for FY 2021, which ends Sept. 30. Discretionary audits are conducted with funds left over after mandatory audits – those required by law or regulation – have been completed.

OIG currently is looking into the protection of OSHA inspectors’ health during the pandemic. Other planned audits concern OSHA’s collaboration with other federal agencies that conduct onsite workplace safety and health inspections, and how OSHA uses complainant interviews during inspections.

“Inspectors are not required to interview complainants at any point during the inspection process, which could result in OSHA having little interaction with complainants and witnesses during complaint inspections,” OIG states. “This audit will focus on OSHA’s use of complainant and witness testimony during a complaint inspection to ensure the complaint or referral was addressed adequately.”

Another audit in progress is a review of OSHA’s silica standards, recently amended after 13 years of research and development. The other two planned audits will examine the Severe Violator Enforcement Program and OSHA’s “lookback reviews” on its own standards, which last occurred more than a decade ago. The latter audit will include examinations into OSHA’s nearly 50-year-old ammonium nitrate standard and 30-year-old Process Safety Management Standard (1910.119).

OIG is continuing to look into the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s modification or cancellation of more than 12,300 citations and orders from the beginning of 2013 through September 2019. Two other planned MSHA-focused audits concern the agency’s efforts to address dust sampling manipulation and mine rescue response plans.


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 – Mine Fatality #20

First published by MSHA.

MINE FATALITY – On October 14, 2020, a lead person was killed when his pickup truck was struck by a haul truck. Preliminary Report Overview.

Accident scene where a lead person was killed when his pickup truck was struck by a haul truck
Best Practices:
  • Install and maintain collision avoidance/warning systems.
  • Equip smaller vehicles with strobe lights and flags positioned high enough to be seen from the cabs of haulage trucks in all lighting conditions.
  • Establish and follow communication protocols that require verbal verification for all mobile equipment operators.
  • Design haul roads to minimize congested areas and maximize visibility.
  • Do not drive smaller vehicles in a large truck’s potential path.
  • Train miners on mobile traffic patterns and policies. Do not rely on training or other administrative controls alone to prevent powered haulage or other accidents.
Additional Information:

This is the 20th fatality reported in 2020 and the fifth 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 #19

First published by MSHA.

MINE FATALITY – On October 13, 2020, a miner died after being struck by a battery-powered scoop. He had parked his shuttle car in an intersection and was exiting when a scoop went through a ventilation curtain in an adjacent crosscut and struck him.

accident scene where the victim had parked his shuttle car in an intersection and was exiting when a scoop went through a ventilation curtain in an adjacent crosscut and struck him.
Best Practices:
  • Install and maintain proximity detection systems on mobile section equipment.
  • Use transparent curtains for ventilation controls on working sections.
  • Communicate your presence and intended movements. Wait until miners acknowledge your message before moving your equipment.
  • STOP and SOUND an audible warning device before tramming equipment through ventilation curtains.
  • Avoid areas where equipment operators cannot readily see you.
  • Wear personal strobe light devices to increase visibility.
Additional Information:

This is the 19th fatality reported in 2020 and the fourth classified as “Powered Haulage.”


MSHA – Mine Fatality #18

First published by MSHA.

MINE FATALITY – On October 9, 2020, a contractor was changing the nozzle on a hydroseeder and accidentally engaged the hydroseeder’s clutch while the nozzle was pointing towards him.  The material sprayed from the nozzle struck him, causing him to fall backward and strike his neck on the hydroseeder handrail.

accident scene where the material sprayed from the nozzle struck him, causing him to fall backward and strike his neck on the hydroseeder handrail.
Best Practices:
  • De-energize equipment while changing accessories until the equipment is ready to use and the operator is properly positioned.
  • Position yourself to avoid hazards resulting from a sudden release of energy.
  • Identify and apply methods to protect personnel from hazards associated with the work being performed. This includes all applicable personal protective equipment for identified hazards.
  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures before beginning work and ensure those procedures are followed.
Additional Information:

This is the 18th fatality reported in 2020 and the fifth 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.