Just a few minutes can prevent accidents and fatalities at mines

First published by MSHA
Take Time Save Lives sticker Seal
Photo property of MSHA

The top priority at MSHA is keeping miners safe. This year we have seen an increase in fatalities and injuries, many of which could have been prevented with proper training and attention to tasks. It is up to mine operators to ensure that miners are fully trained and able to take time to follow best safety practices that can prevent deadly accidents.

To assist mine operators, MSHA has resources available to help train even seasoned miners. At the links below, you will find:

And we will continue to add more resources. If there is something you need that is not available, please let us know using the link on the safety page. We hope you’ll help us get the word out to Take Time, Save Lives, and make sure every miner comes home safe at the end of each shift.

Powered haulage safety

Surface mining vehicles can be several stories tall and are capable of destroying smaller vehicles that cannot be seen by the operator. Traffic controls, training, and avoiding distractions are key to enhancing safety. Collision warning and avoidance systems can also help.

MSHA engineers estimate that three to four miners’ lives could be saved each year if adequate seat belts were provided and worn. Warning systems such as chimes can remind drivers to buckle up, while interlock systems can prevent the vehicle from moving if the belt is unbuckled.

Belt conveyors and their components pose serious risks to miners working on or around them. It’s important to install adequate guarding to prevent contact, provide and use crossovers and cross unders, and lock out energy sources and block motion whenever performing maintenance.

Pillar Collapse Prevention

MSHA has resources available to raise awareness and avoid these accidents at underground mines, particularly limestone mines, that can result in areas where benching has occurred.  Please use resources at this link, including upcoming seminars, papers, presentations and videos, to help you avoid the dangers of pillar collapses.

Fire Suppression Guidance

Adequate task training must be performed so equipment operators and mechanics will be able to maintain equipment, respond correctly to alarms, use fire suppression systems properly, and safely dismount equipment in an emergency.  Mine operators should provide refresher training as needed.

COVID-19


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.

Development Mining Near Wells

First published by MSHA

Nationwide, thousands of oil and gas wells penetrate coal seams that are being actively mined.  An inadvertent intersection with one of these wells could pose a hazard to nearby miners, through the following types of interactions:

  • If a mine inadvertently intersects an active gas well, methane gas can inundate the mining section.
  • Abandoned wells in depleted oil and gas reservoirs can pose similar hazards because they may recharge with gas over time.
  • Flooded and abandoned wells can cause injuries by forcibly ejecting material into the mine or by inundating the mining sections with water.

In recent decades, much has changed in both the mining and gas industries.  Today’s coal mines are deeper, and the proliferation of high-pressure Marcellus and Utica gas wells has increased the potential consequences of an incident.  New scientific information is now available, most notably downhole gas well surveys that show that depth has a big effect on the possible deviation between a well’s surface location and its location at the coal seam level.  Click below to learn about best practices for development mining in the vicinity of gas wells.

Every year MSHA and state regulatory agencies evaluate approximately 1,000 requests to mine within 150 feet of oil and gas wells.  Historically, the primary technical document addressing interactions between gas wells and mining in the United States has been the “Pennsylvania Joint Oil and Gas Well Gas Well Pillar Study” published in 1957.  Much has changed in both the mining and gas industries since the guidelines were developed.  Today’s coal mines are hundreds of feet deeper than they were then, and the proliferation of high-pressure Marcellus and Utica gas wells has increased the potential consequences of an incident.  New scientific information is now available, most notably downhole gas well surveys that show that depth has a big effect on the possible deviation between a well’s surface location and its location at the coal seam level.

Well casing cut into by a continuous miner in an active coal mine.

Photo property of MSHA

Well casing cut into by a continuous miner in an active coal mine.

Key Safety Practices:

The setback distance from a well should be large enough to mitigate risks associated with the cumulative impact of the following four factors: 1) Well Deviation; 2) Surveying Error; 3) Mining Error; and 4) Pillar Rib Weathering and Peak Stress Avoidance Setback.

Well deviation is the horizontal distance between the surface location of the well and where it penetrates the coal seam.  Technical Support collected data from nearly 250 downhole well deviation surveys.  The data shows that as wells penetrate deeper, their deviation potential increases. When the cover (H) is less than 1,000 feet, no wells had deviations greater than H times the tangent of 2°. When H is greater than 1,000 feet, the maximum deviation was less than H times the tangent of 2.5°.

Surveying error can be calculated to determine the potential location error from the closure ratio. The survey error is independent of the depth of cover.

Mining error can occur due to mining off-sights due to inadequate survey control at the face, regardless of the depth of cover.  Frequently establishing sight spads and conducting check surveys mitigates risk associated with mining off-sights.

The Pillar Rib Weathering and Peak Stress Avoidance Setback addresses risks associated with a well penetrating the zone of the pillar where weathering of the rib or high pillar deformations (yield zone) occur.  This setback also should prevent the well from penetrating the pillar within the region where the peak pillar stress occur, and closer to the lower-stress, more stable core.

Resources:

Best Practices – Mining Near Oil and Gas Wells

Presentation – Mining Near Oil and Gas Wells

White Paper – Mining Near Oil and Gas Wells


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.

Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19

 

To ensure continuity of essential function operations, CDC indicates that critical infrastructure workers may be allowed to continue working in the face of potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are in place to protect and protect them to the community.

Potential exposure means being a household contact or having close contact (up to 6 feet away) with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case. The period to have contact with a person includes a lapse of 48 hours before the onset of symptoms.

Critical infrastructure workers who have been exposed but remain asymptomatic should implement the following before and during work shifts:

  • Pre-assessment: Employers should monitor temperature and assess employee symptoms before they begin work. The ideal would be to control the temperature before the person enters the establishment.
  • Regular Monitoring: As long as employees do not have a fever or other symptoms, they should monitor themselves under the supervision of the employer’s occupational health program.
  • Mask use: The employee should wear a mask at all times in the workplace for 14 days after the last exposure. Employers can provide masks or authorize the use of cloth face covers for employees in the event of a shortage of supplies.
  • Social distance: The employee should maintain a distance of 6 feet and implement social distance, as long as the tasks performed in the workplace allow it.
  • Cleaning and disinfection of work areas: regularly clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, and electronic equipment for shared use.

If the employee becomes ill during the day, they should send him home immediately . Surfaces in your work area should be cleaned and disinfected . Information should be collected on people who were in contact with the sick employee during the time he had symptoms and 2 days prior to the onset of symptoms. They should be considered exposed to other persons in the establishment who had close contact up to 6 feet from the employee during that time.

Employers should implement the recommendations in the Interim Guide for Business and Employers on Planning and Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 to help prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Find more information on how to identify critical infrastructure during COVID-19 on the DHS CISA website external site icon or on the CDC Specific Guide page for emergency response personnel.

INTERIM GUIDE

This interim guide is for critical infrastructure workers, including staff in 16 different job sectors, such as:

  • Local, State, and Federal Public Safety
  • 911 call center employees
  • Fusion Center Employees
  • Private sector and government hazardous materials response personnel
  • Custodial staff and other custodial staff
  • Workers, including contract providers, in the food and agriculture, critical manufacturing, computing, transportation, energy, and government facilities
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
  • Employees should not share headphones or other objects that are close to the mouth or nose.
  • Employers should increase the frequency with which commonly touched surfaces are cleaned.
  • Employees and employers should consider piloting the use of face masks to ensure that it does not affect assigned tasks.
  • Employers should coordinate with facility maintenance personnel to ventilate workplaces more frequently.
  • Employees should keep their distance when they take a break all together. It is necessary to take staggered breaks, avoid congregations in the rest area and not