MSHA Fatality #19

COAL MINE FATALITY – On September 17, 2019, an electrician was electrocuted when he contacted an energized conductor. The victim contacted a 995 VAC connector while attempting to troubleshoot the scrubber motor circuit on a continuous mining machine.

Fatality accident scene on September 17, 2019
Best Practices: 
  1. Lock out and tag out the electrical circuit yourself. Never rely on others to do this for you.
  2. BEFORE performing electrical work:
    • Open the circuit breaker or load break switch away from the enclosure to de-energize the incoming power cables or conductors.
    • Open the visual disconnect away from the enclosure to confirm that the incoming power cables or conductors have been de-energized.
    • Lock out and tag out the visual disconnect.
    • Ground the de-energized phase conductors.
  3. Wear properly rated and well maintained electrical gloves when troubleshooting or testing energized circuits.  After the electrical problem has been found, follow the proper steps before performing electrical work.
  4. Use properly rated electrical meters and non-contact voltage testers to ensure electrical circuits have been de-energized.
  5. Only use qualified, trained workers. Ensure electrical work is performed by a qualified electrician or someone trained to do electrical work under a qualified electrician’s direct supervision.
  6. Identify circuits and circuit breakers. Properly identify all electrical circuits and circuit breakers before troubleshooting or performing electrical work.

MSHA Fatality #18

MINE FATALITY ALERT – On September 5, 2019, a continuous mining machine helper was fatally injured when he was struck by a battery-powered scoop. The victim was in the #3 entry behind a wing curtain that provided ventilation to the #3 right crosscut being mined. The scoop was trammed through the #3 left crosscut and struck the victim as it made a right-hand turn and passed through the wing curtain.

scene of accident where the victim was struck by a battery-powered scoop
Best Practices:
  • Install and maintain proximity detection systems on mobile section equipment.
  • Before operating mobile equipment, inform miners of your travel route – especially if changes are being made. Proceed with caution and watch for miners on foot.
  • STOP and SOUND an audible warning device before tramming equipment through ventilation curtains.
  • STAY ALERT around mobile section equipment. Communicate your presence and intended movements to equipment operators.
  • Use transparent curtains for ventilation controls on working sections.
  • Be aware that noise can cause moving equipment to not be heard.

Electrical Safety Alert

Don’t rush. Lockout/Tagout. Control hazards.

Electricity has killed three people in the mining industry since August 7, 2019.

  • An electrician contacted an energized component of a 4,160 VAC electrical circuit while adjusting the linkage between the disconnect lever and the internal components of the panel that supplied power to the plant feed belt motors.
  • A contract electrician contacted an energized 120 VAC conductor while working inside a fire suppression system’s electrical panel.
  • An electrician contacted an exposed energized connector while troubleshooting a 995 VAC flooded bed scrubber motor circuit on-board a continuous mining machine.

Prevent Electrical Accidents:

  • Lockout/Tagout circuits before working on electrical equipment.
  • Don’t rush. Never work alone. Talk to coworkers and confirm your plan is safe.
  • Identify and control all hazardous energy sources before conducting any task and follow safe work procedures.
    • Open the circuit breaker or load break switch to de-energize the incoming power cables or conductors
    • Open the visual disconnect to confirm incoming power is off
    • Lockout/Tagout the visual disconnect
    • Ground the de-energized conductors
  • Train miners on equipment they may use.
  • Electricians must know how to de-energize and disconnect electrical systems and equipment.
  • Always troubleshoot without power first.
  • If you must troubleshoot an energized circuit, use properly rated personal protective equipment to prevent hazards. For example, use electrically rated gloves, insulated blankets or mats, and polycarbonate barriers to prevent accidental contact with energized components.

Comment period extended regarding escapeways and refuges in underground metal and nonmetal mines and announcement of public meeting

On July 29, 2019, MSHA announced a new Program Policy Letter (PPL) and request for comments regarding escapeways and refuges in underground metal and nonmental mines in the Federal Register.

In response to stakeholders, MSHA is providing additional time for interested parties to comment. The new deadline to submit comments is October 28, 2019. View the comment extension and announcement of public meeting notice on

MSHA will also be holding a public meeting to receive input from industry, labor, and other interested parties on October 10, 2019, from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at MSHA’s Headquarters in Arlington, VA.

Update on Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines Rule

On September 30, 2019, the Mine Safety and Health Administration will publish a notice in the Federal Register regarding the reinstatement of the regulatory provisions for examinations of working places in metal and nonmetal mines originally published on January 23, 2017. The rule is being reinstated as the result of an order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

View the Federal Register notice on the Office of the Federal Register’s Public Inspection Desk

The rule is effective on September 30, 2019.

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Safety Alert – Electrical Accidents

The mining industry has experienced three electrical fatalities since August 7, 2019. The first fatal accident occurred when a 42-year-old electrician with 15 years of mining experience contacted an energized component of a 4,160 VAC electrical circuit. The victim was in the preparation plant’s Motor Control Center (MCC) adjusting the linkage between the disconnect lever and the internal components of the 4,160 VAC panel that supplied power to the plant feed belt motors. Read more»


OIG finds no evidence that MSHA fines act as deterrents

Photo: EtiAmmos/iStockphoto

Washington — A recent audit from the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General found no correlation between safe mining operations and paid civil monetary penalties issued by the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The audit, released Aug. 16, analyzed public MSHA incident and violation data between 2000 and 2017. Findings show that although MSHA collected about 90% of the more than $1 billion in violation penalties issued over the 18-year period, “most fatal or permanent-injury accidents occurred at mines where operators paid almost all of their penalties assessed.” Further, the auditors report “the frequency of severe violation recurrence was very similar whether or not violation penalties were paid.” Read more»

MSHA Fatality #17

On August 29, 2019, a 25 year-old section foreman with 6 years of mining experience was fatally injured while exiting the longwall face.  The victim was struck and covered by a portion of mine rib measuring 25 feet in length, 3 feet in depth, and 8 ½ feet in height.

Fatality accident scene on August 29, 2019
Best Practices:
  • Be aware of potential hazards when working or traveling near mine ribs.
  • Take additional safety precautions when geologic conditions, or an increase in mining height, could cause roof or rib hazards.
  • Train all miners to conduct thorough and more frequent examinations of the roof, face, and ribs when miners work or travel close to the longwall face.  Continuously monitor for changing conditions.
  • Install rib supports of proper length with surface area coverage, on cycle, and in a consistent pattern for the best protection against rib falls.
Additional Information:

This is the 17th MSHA fatality reported in calendar year 2019.  As of this date in 2018, there were 13 MSHA fatalities reported.  This is the second MSHA fatality classified as Fall of Face, Rib, Pillar or Highwall in 2019.  There was one MSHA fatality classified as Fall of Face, Rib, Pillar or Highwall during the same period in 2018.

In response to calls for more stringent silica regulation, MSHA issues Request for Information on quartz exposure

Photo: VivaColonia/iStockphoto
September 4, 2019

Washington — Amid a push from labor unions seeking stricter regulation of respirable silica dust, the Mine Safety and Health Administration is asking for input on ways to monitor and regulate miner exposure to quartz – the most common form of respirable crystalline silica.

According to a Request for Information published in the Aug. 29 Federal Register, MSHA is interested in feedback regarding permissible exposure limits, possible new or emerging protective technologies, and/or technical and educational assistance. Continue Reading»

Respirable Silica (Quartz); Request for Information

Respirable Silica (Quartz); Request for Information

Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) published a Request for Information on Respirable Silica (Quartz) in the Federal Register.

MSHA is soliciting information and data from industry, labor, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and other stakeholders on feasible, best practices to protect miners’ health from exposure to quartz in respirable dust. These practices include an examination of an appropriately reduced permissible exposure limit, potential new or developing protective technologies, and/or technical and educational assistance.

View the Request for Information on

The comment period for the Request for Information closes on October 28, 2019.

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