MSHA Confined Space Enforcement To Increase Dramatically
I just received an alert on MSHA confined space enforcement that needed to be passed along. Due to recent serious injuries and fatalities MSHA will be “placing special emphasis on enforcing its standards related to entering bins, hoppers, silos, tanks, and surge piles… by focusing additional resources on increased enforcement attention, education and outreach, including walk-and-talks,” said Neal Merrifield.
This MSHA confined space enforcement emphasis is just the latest in a long line of MSHA attempts to increase mine safety through fines and enforcement. The mining community needs to prepare for the imminent increase in MSHA enforcement. To help mines and mine contractors get ready and keep workers safe we’re offering our full Intro to MSHA Confined Space training for free.
The following is the full letter regarding the MSHA Confined Space Entry Alert from MSHA M/NM Administrator Neal Merrifield. All emphasis is added.
Unsafe work in confined spaces has led to miner deaths and injuries in the metal and
nonmetal mining industry. Recent tragic incidents include: a fatality while cleaning the
inside of a tanker railcar and a miner being severely burned during maintenance inside
a baghouse screw conveyor hopper. To address these regrettable occurrences and
help prevent similar instances in the future, MSHA will be placing special emphasis on
enforcing its standards related to entering bins, hoppers, silos, tanks, and surge piles.
MSHA and the Industrial Minerals Association-North America (IMA-NA) have engaged
the issue of confined spaces as a project within the Alliance between the two
organizations. We recommend conducting a hazard assessment and implementing a
permitting system as part of a safe entry standard operating procedure (SOP).
Many mining and milling workplaces contain areas that are considered “confined
spaces” because, while they are not necessarily designed for people, they are large
enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs. A confined space also has limited
or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy.
Confined spaces include, but are not limited to, tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins,
hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, equipment housings, ductwork, pipelines, etc.
Metal and Nonmetal (MNM) regulations related to confined space that MSHA enforces
include: 30 CFR §§56/57.5001(a); 30 CFR §§56/57.5002; 30 CFR §§56/57.5005(c);
30 CFR §57.5015; 30 CFR §§56/57.14105; 30 CFR §§56/57.15005; and
30 CFR §§56/57.16002.
These standards regulate hazardous atmospheres; material that has the potential to
engulf an entrant; walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper
into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant; and any other recognized
safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live electrical wires, or
Because confined spaces are potentially dangerous, employers should evaluate all
confined spaces in which their employees work to determine whether hazards exist or
whether the work to be done in the space can create hazards. MSHA will place special
emphasis on confined spaces over the next several months by focusing additional
resources on increased enforcement attention, education and outreach, including walk-
and-talks. We are encouraging the mining industry to do the same. MSHA will provide
the mining industry with additional information on the importance of having an effective
MSHA Confined Space Entry program. Please make sure that information gets distributed.
MNM inspectors, joined by Coal inspectors and Educational Field and Small Mines
Services personnel will be visiting mines, calling attention to these potentially hazardous
conditions and discussing safe work practices with miners. Please join MSHA and
IMA-NA in this special safety outreach and help us spread the word to the miners at
your operations. This is the time to be proactive. Assure that an effective Confined
Space Entry program is implemented, that miners are trained on program specifics and
are task trained to recognize and avoid hazards, so they can go home safe and healthy
at the end of each shift.
A link follows to an MSHA Confined Space Entry Alert recently published on MSHA’s website:
http://www.msha.gov/Alerts/confined-space-entry-ha1109.pdf. Also, for more
information on the confined space mining deaths that have occurred since October 2013 and
Please use the photos and descriptions to prompt discussions about fatalities and how to prevent them.
MSHA Part 50 Compliance Will Be Heavily Scrutinized
MSHA Part 50 enforcement will be significantly increased starting today. In a previous blog we discussed how MSHA will increase the number of inspectors and inspections at metal/non-metal mines with a heightened focus on smaller “mom and pop” mines.
In recent weeks, MSHA Part 50 enforcement of Accident Reporting has also increased. MSHA believes there has been underreporting of accidents and injuries. To back up these claims, inspectors have begun to go through workman’s compensation paperwork. If MSHA finds a serious accident that wasn’t reported in 15 minutes they will issue a ticket of $5000 to $60,000.
What accidents or injuries fall under the MSHA Part 50 Immediate notification requirement? According to 30 C.F.R. § 50.10 operators “shall immediately contact MSHA at once without delay and within 15 minutes at the toll-free number, 1-800-746-1553, once the operator knows or should know that an accident has occurred involving:
- A death of an individual at the mine;
- An injury of an individual at the mine which has a reasonable potential to cause death;
- An entrapment of an individual at the mine which has a reasonable potential to cause death; or
- Any other accident.
The language “any other accident” is ambiguous but MSHA goes on to define an accident as:
- A death of an individual at a mine;
- An injury to an individual at a mine, which has a reasonable potential to cause death;
- An entrapment of an individual for more than 30 minutes or which has a reasonable potential to cause death;
- An unplanned inundation of a mine by a liquid or gas;
- An unplanned ignition or explosion of gas or dust;
- In underground mines, an unplanned fire not extinguished within 10 minutes of discovery; in surface mines and surface areas of underground mines, an unplanned fire not extinguished within 30 minutes of discovery;
- An unplanned ignition or explosion of a blasting agent or an explosive;
- An unplanned roof fall at or above the anchorage zone in active workings where roof bolts are in use; or, an unplanned roof or rib fall in active workings that impairs ventilation or impedes passage;
- A coal or rock outburst that causes withdrawal of miners or which disrupts regular mining activity for more than one hour;
- An unstable condition at an impoundment, refuse pile, or culm bank which requires emergency action in order to prevent failure, or which causes individuals to evacuate an area; or, failure of an impoundment, refuse pile, or culm bank;
- Damage to hoisting equipment in a shaft or slope which endangers an individual or which interferes with use of the equipment for more than thirty minutes; and
- An event at a mine which causes death or bodily injury to an individual not at the mine at the time the event occurs.
Additionally, “injuries not related to one of the twelve types of accidents mentioned in 30 C.F.R. MSHA Part 50 (50.2(h)), such as ordinary sprains, strains, minor cuts, minor burns, bruises or other injuries that are not life-threatening, do not require immediate notification. These types of injuries should be reported via the 7000-1 form under MSHA Part 50 regulations.”
What can you do to stay MSHA compliant and protect your company?
First and foremost everyone on your site needs to be prepared. Put standard operating procedures in place and practice those procedures. Everyone on site, including contractors, must know the physical address of the mine so they can call 911 and bring help as soon as possible.
Second, all employees must know the next steps to take in the event of an accident. Do they have first aid training? Do they have a first aid kit? Will they be able to care for someone until paramedics arrive?
Finally, you need to follow regulations and report all accidents as defined by MSHA Part 50 within 15 minutes of their occurrence.
If you have questions regarding accidents you may have had, you can email MSC at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 602-956-6959 ext. 23. We may be able to help.