IME Alliance Electronic Detonators – Safety Alert

First published by MSHA.

Electronic Detonators are NOT the same as Electric Detonators
Electronic and electric detonators may look similar and serve the same function, but they are very different.

Key Differences:
Lead wire attachment – As demonstrated in the figure below, the wire leads of the electronic detonator do not attach directly to a match head or bridge wire, like electric detonators. In the case of electric detonators, the direct connection of the wire leads to the matchhead or bridge wire makes them susceptible to initiation from static, stray current and/or radio frequency (RF) energy, whereas electronic detonators are not.

Added protection – Electronic detonators have other components to increase protection from extraneous energy sources: a spark gap device to protect against static discharge events (high voltage spikes from static build up on personnel, equipment, etc.), the use of current limiting resistors, amongst other devices or design features.

EMP – Both electric and electronic detonators can be damaged by an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). However, electronic detonators generally have built-in protection from this type of extraneous energy.

Pressure induced damage – Both electric and electronic detonators can incorporate dynamic and static pressure resistance, however electronic detonators (which use microchip technology and logic to provide timing and firing control) may have a higher susceptibility to damage.

Enhanced control systems – Electronic Blasting Machines are the only devices designed to provide password protection, programming capability and the energy levels needed to charge the electronic detonators in a circuit and send a fire command.

Interchangeability – Electronic detonating systems are unique and system components must NEVER be interchanged. Users should read and understand all aspects of the system they use and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Electric detonators can be used with any appropriate firing device.

Training – ALWAYS consult your manufacturer for proper training information before attempting to operate any Electronic Blasting Initiation System.

diagram of Electronic Detonators, Electronic and electric detonators may look similar and serve the same function, but they are very different.
Best Practices:

ALWAYS clear the blast area of personnel, vehicles, and equipment prior to hooking up to the firing device or blast controller. In addition, the blast area should remain clear until the charge on the electronic detonators have had sufficient time to bleed off.


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.

Confined Space – Safety Alert

First published by MSHA.

Between 2017 and 2020, three miners were fatally injured after entering confined spaces to clear material and obstructions. These confined spaces included a sand and gravel bin, a sand-filled hopper, and a cone crusher. All three miners were engulfed by falling material.

These confined spaces included a sand and gravel bin, a sand-filled hopper, and a cone crusher. All three miners were engulfed by falling material.
Best Practices:
  • Operators should identify and eliminate or control all hazards before miners begin work and when clearing blocked material. Miners should be trained in these practices.
  • Lock-out, tag-out. Never enter a confined space until the supply and discharge equipment is locked out.
  • Never lock-out using the start and stop controls. These do not disconnect power conductors.
  • Assign a safety harness and lanyard to each miner who may work at material supply and discharge areas or any areas where an engulfment hazard exists. Do not use lanyards that depend on free-fall speed to lock.
  • Place warning signs:
    • “Fall Protection Required Here”
    • “Confined Space – Engulfment Hazard” warning signs at all access points to hoppers, bins, and chutes.

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.

Working near belt conveyors: Recent deaths spur MSHA safety alert

Lock Out Tag Out Procedures Archives - Mine Safety Center

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Arlington, VA — Spurred by numerous fatalities related to the hazards of working near belt conveyors, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a safety alert.

Published on Sept. 3, the alert states that eight fatalities involving belt conveyors have occurred in the industry since Jan. 26, 2017. Six involved miners working near a moving conveyor, and two occurred during maintenance on an idle conveyor.

“All of these fatalities could have been prevented with proper lockout/tagout and blocking against motion before working,” the alert states.

MSHA details the most recent incident, which occurred in December and remains under investigation. A miner was fatally injured after removing a splice pin from a mainline conveyor that was caught between the belt and frame of the belt tailpiece.

The agency lists multiple best practices for working safely near belt conveyors, including:

  • Identify, isolate and control stored mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and gravitational energy.
  • Effectively block the belt conveyor to prevent movement in either direction.
  • Relieve belt tension by releasing energy at the take up/belt storage system. Remember: Some tensile energy might still exist.
  • Position belt splice in an area of safe access to avoid pinch points.
  • De-energize electrical power, and lock and tag the main disconnect before beginning maintenance. Permit only the person who installed a lock and tag to remove them – and only after completing the work.
  • Never lock out start and stop controls or belt switches, as they don’t disconnect power conductors.

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.


Working in Proximity to Belt Conveyors – Safety Alert

Lock-Out, Tag-Out, Try-Out, and Block Against Motion Before Working.

There have been eight fatalities involving belt conveyors in the mining industry since January 26, 2017. Six involved miners working near moving conveyors, while two involved maintenance of an idle conveyor. All of these fatalities could have been prevented with proper lock-out/tag-out and blocking against motion before working. The most recent fatality, involving a miner coming in contact with a moving conveyor, is under investigation.

On December 23, 2019, a miner on a belt move crew was fatally injured while removing a splice pin from a 72-inch mainline conveyor. A belt gripper and a ratchet-style come-along failed, releasing stored energy in a tightly stretched portion of the belt, causing the belting to suddenly become taut and shift upward, pinning the miner between the belt and frame of the belt tailpiece.

Belt Conveyor safety alert for September 2020
Best Practices:

Best practices During Belt Conveyor Maintenance

Block From Motion

  • Identify, isolate, and control stored mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, and gravitational energy.
  • Effectively block the belt conveyor to prevent movement in either direction.
  • Relieve belt tension by releasing the energy at the take-up/belt storage system. Be aware that some tensile energy may remain.
  • Anchor belt clamping system to substantial belt structures. Use properly rated engineered belt clamps and come-alongs. Do not use belt grippers to restrain tensioned belts.
  • Position the clamp 90 degrees to the belt’s direction of travel, and tie off in line with the belt’s direction of travel.
  • Position belt splice where it can be safely accessed to avoid pinch points.
  • Be aware of the consequences if blocking equipment fails. Stand in safe locations.

Lock and Tag

  • De-energize electrical power, and lock and tag the main disconnect before beginning maintenance. Only the person who installed a lock and tag can remove them, and only after completing the work.
  • Never lock out using the start and stop controls (belt switches). These do not disconnect power conductors.
  • Once power has been disconnected and properly locked and tagged out, test the system to assure there is no power to the belt conveyor.

Training and Communication

  • Ensure miners are trained on safe work procedures. Develop step-by-step procedures and review them with all miners before they perform non-routine maintenance tasks such as adding or removing conveyor belt.
  • Communicate effectively. After maintenance has been completed and before removing your lock and tag, ensure everyone is clear of the belt conveyor and communicate to others that you will be restarting the belt.

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.

Fall Protection June 2020 – Safety Alert

Recent Increase in Fall of Person Accidents

28 miners have died after falling from heights over the last 10 years.

Deaths from falls have increased from 8% to 19% of mining fatalities in the last two years.

  • Working without fall protection on top of trucks, in aerial lift baskets, and while accessing and egressing other mobile equipment
  • While performing maintenance on crushers, screens, conveyors, and other milling equipment

MSHA issued 92 imminent danger orders for people working at heights without fall protection between January 2019 and June 2020. The most common violations were truck drivers climbing atop their vehicles, and maintenance and quarry personnel climbing to or working without fall protection in high places. Supervisors have been ordered down from dangerous locations.

Fall protection Safety Alert information for June of 2020
Best Practices:
  • Reduce hazards. Design work areas and develop job tasks to minimize fall hazards.
  • Have a program. Establish an effective fall prevention and protection program. Provide task and site-specific hazard training that prohibits working at unprotected locations.
  • Provide a fall protection harness and lanyard to each miner who may work at an elevated height or a location unprotected by handrails. Ensure their use.
  • Provide identifiable, secure anchor points to attach lanyards.
  • Proactively enforce fall protection equipment usage and safe work-at-height policies and procedures with supervisors, miners, contractors, and truck drivers.
  • Provide mobile or stationary platforms or scaffolding at locations and on work projects where there is a risk of falling.
  • Provide safe truck tarping and bulk truck hatch access facilities.

Engulfment incident spurs MSHA safety alert on surge piles

MSHA-Safety-Alert-for-Surge-Piles.jpg

Photo: Photo: Mine Safety and Health Administration

Arlington, VA — Prompted by a recent incident in which a coal mine bulldozer operator working on a surge pile of coal was engulfed and trapped in the machine’s cab when the pile collapsed, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a safety alert.

The operator was working near a load-out feeder location at the time the surge pile tumbled. MSHA contends the operator was uninjured because the bulldozer was equipped with high-strength glass that prevented coal from infiltrating the cab, as well as two self-contained self-rescuers, which supplied sufficient, breathable air during a two-hour rescue effort.

According to a 2019 Department of Labor video, surge pile incidents have claimed the lives of 19 miners since 1980. “In an accident, a bulldozer can suddenly fall into a hidden cavity, where the coal has bridged over an underground feeder,” the video says.

MSHA offers numerous best practices for mine operators and contractors to safely work on or near surge piles, including:

  • Prevent foot traffic on surge piles and provide adequate warning signs.
  • Provide adequate surge pile-related training to all workers, including specialization on alarm response, equipment needs, and rescue and recovery plans involving engulfed equipment.
  • Stock cabs with safety equipment, including self-contained self-rescuers, flashlights, cooling pads and drinking water.
  • Stay stable. Do not operate equipment directly over feeders, stay away from unstable drawhole edges and ensure bulldozers employ the “double blade” pushing method.
  • Use remote-controlled dozers on surge piles.
  • Be aware of surge pile conditions.

COVID-19 pandemic: Construction workers subject of new OSHA alert

worker-with-mask.jpg

Photo: strods/iStockphoto

Washington — Aimed at protecting construction workers from exposure to COVID-19, a new OSHA safety alert lists measures employers should take during the pandemic.

Released April 21, the alert calls on employers to encourage workers to report any safety or health concerns and stay home when sick. Additionally, the agency recommends that in-person meetings, including toolbox talks and safety meetings, be kept as short as possible. Organizations should limit the number of workers in attendance and make sure they remain at least 6 feet apart from each other at all times.

Employers also should ensure alcohol-based wipes are used to clean tools and equipment – especially those that are shared – before and after use. Workers tasked with cleaning should consult manufacturer recommendations for proper use and any restrictions.

Physical distancing protocol should be followed inside work trailers or when visitors are onsite, and physical contact should be avoided.

Organizations are advised to clean and disinfect jobsite toilets on a regular basis, and ensure hand-sanitizer dispensers are filled. Any other frequently touched items such as door pulls should be cleaned and disinfected.

Other recommendations:

  • Educate workers on the proper way to put on, take off, maintain and use/wear protective clothing and equipment.
  • Allow workers to wear masks over their nose and mouth to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Encourage respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.
  • Use cleaning products listed by the Environmental Protection Agency as effective against the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19.
  • Promote personal hygiene. If workers don’t have access to soap and water for handwashing, provide hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol.
  • Continue to use “normal control measures,” including personal protective equipment, to safeguard workers from other job hazards associated with construction activities.

The alert is available in English and Spanish.

MSHA Safety Alert – Surge Piles

On March 5, 2020, an operator was using a Caterpillar D8T bulldozer on a coal surge pile near a load-out feeder location when the surge pile collapsed, engulfing the bulldozer and trapping the operator inside the cab. The operator was uninjured because the bulldozer was equipped with:

  • High-strength glass that prevented coal from entering the operator’s cab; and
  • Two Self Contained Self-Rescuers (SCSRs) which provided the equipment operator sufficient breathable air throughout the two-hour rescue effort.​

MSHA urges all mine operators and contractors to be aware of hazards associated with operating equipment on or near coal surge piles and to follow the safety practices listed below.

Safety Alert for Working On or Near Surge Piles

Best Practices for Working On or Near Surge Piles

  • Install high-strength glass certified to support at least 40 psi with a frame and supports designed to withstand the added loading.
  • Stock cabs with safety equipment. Securely store additional SCSRs, flashlights, cooling packs and drinking water in equipment cabs.
  • Mark feeder locations and provide visual indicators to identify active feeders.
  • Stay stable. Don’t operate equipment directly over feeders, stay away from the unstable drawhole edges and ensure that dozers use the “double blade” pushing method by leaving the first blade of material short of the drawhole edge and bumping it into the drawhole using the second blade of material.
  • Always keep the dozer blade between the cab and the feeder.
  • Provide gates on feeders or ensure that coal cannot discharge when a feeder is not operable.
  • Be aware of surge pile conditions such as excessive material settling in piles that have been idled, excessive compaction of material layers overlying the feeders, and freezing weather conditions that create hidden cavities when the material is “bridged” over a feeder.
  • Make sure the equipment operator can remotely shut-down the stacker and feeder belts from the equipment cab.
  • Install closed-circuit TV monitors so feeder operators can observe conditions and activities on the surge pile and provide two-way radio communication.
  • Prevent foot traffic on surge piles and provide adequate warning signs.
  • Use remote-controlled dozers on surge piles.
  • Provide adequate training for all surge pile workers to include specialized training on alarm response, equipment needs and rescue and recovery plans involving engulfed equipment.

Safety Alert – Electro-Hydraulic Lifts

Use qualified welders. Inspect welds and metal components. Train users.

Damaged or defective welds on aerial lifts have caused two fatalities in the mining industry since 2001.

  • A mechanic died while being lowered in an electro-hydraulic aerial lift. A weld splice fractured on a recently repaired arm of the lift, causing the arm to strike the victim in the head (Figure 1). The weld failed because of poor weld quality from an improper repair.
  • A welder died while being lowered in an electro-hydraulic aerial lift when the lift arm catastrophically fractured at a critical weld connecting the arm support to its lift cylinder (Figure 2). Undetected cracks existed in the weld and the surrounding metal prior to failure.
Electric hydraulic lifts use of qualified weilders, inspection welds and metal components includign training users
Best Practices:

Best Practices to Prevent the Mechanical Failure of Welded Connections
Prevent accidents by following proper welding procedures and performing regular inspections for damages or defects.

  • Only qualified welders should perform all welding.
  • Determine the service/fatigue life of mechanical systems or parts by consulting with the manufacturer.
  • Inspect welds following installation and repairs, and periodically during service life.
  • Train users in the proper operation of lifts – including not exceeding their design capacity.
  • Routinely examine metal components for signs of weakness, corrosion, fatigue cracks, bends, buckling, deflection, missing connectors, etc.
  • Use nondestructive test methods to detect cracks that may be indistinguishable to the eye.
  • Take cracked mechanical components out of service immediately. Small cracks can quickly grow and lead to catastrophic fracture.

MSHA issues safety alert on underground diesel equipment fires

Photo: Alfio Manciagli/iStockphoto

Prompted by a fire on a diesel-powered water car in May, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a safety alert addressing fire hazards associated with diesel equipment in underground mines.

According to MSHA, the incident occurred when the vehicle’s automatic and manually activated fire suppression systems failed to function properly. The vehicle had been converted to a water transport vehicle from a personnel carrier. The systems malfunctioned because an actuation hose had been damaged as a result of routing through the engine compartment. Crews extinguished the blaze using a fire hose from the water system near the conveyor belt drive. No miners were injured in the incident.

MSHA offers best practices for fire safety awareness. Among them:

  • Conduct thorough preoperational inspections and perform required maintenance. Identify and correct obvious fire hazards such as accumulations of combustible fluids or grease, leaking hydraulic and coolant hoses or fuel supply lines, and cracked or blistered flanges on hydraulic and coolant hoses and connections at the hydraulic pump.
  • Install audible and visible alarms in the cab to alert equipment operators to fires.
  • Ensure proper design, installation and maintenance of manual and automatic fire suppression systems. Follow National Fire Protection Association standards for dry and wet chemical extinguishing systems – NFPA 17 and 17A, respectively – as well as manufacturer recommendations.
  • Route actuation and expellant gas hoses away from the engine compartment, heat sources, electrical wires and moving parts, or ensure they have a heat-resistant fire jacket.
  • Ensure actuation hoses mounted to removable covers are secured in such a manner to prevent damage from wear and potential contact with heat sources.