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.