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MSHA Safety Enforcement Alert Issues Broad Warning

 MSHA Safety Enforcement Update

MSHA Safety Enforcement Alert Announces Vague Initiative

After last week’s serious incident, today brings another MSHA safety enforcement announcement and boy is it broad. MSHA’s M/NM Administrator Neal Merrifield begins the announcement:

 

Since 2011, 16 metal and nonmetal miners have died in accidents involving machinery and non-haulage mobile and quarry equipment, and many more have been seriously injured or disabled.  Of the 16 persons fatally injured, six were supervisors and three were contractors.  Seven miners died when they were struck by the equipment they or a co-worker were operating, four miners drowned when their equipment ran into or overturned into water, and five more died when they were caught in crushers, on drill steel or between reciprocating machinery.  The equipment involved represented a wide variety of mining equipment: drills, dozers, excavators, graders, dredges and crushers… MSHA plans again this month to continue walk and talks at mine sites and again enlist the partnership of mines, miners and mining industry groups in the effort to raise safety consciousness.

 

I’ll repeat that, “drills, dozers, excavators, graders, dredges, and crushers.” MSHA is essentially announcing close inspections of all machinery and equipment used in the process of mining. Their stated purpose is admirable as always, but you have to consider MSHA’s previous methods of “raising awareness.”  Recent history tells us it will likely involve increased inspections, citations, and fines.

This is the 5th announcement of increased MSHA safety enforcement in just the past few months. MSHA has announced an enforcement “surge” on M/NM mines which includes transferring inspectors from coal to M/NM, an emphasis on confined spaces and Lock Out, Tag Out, Try Out procedures, and Part 50 injury reporting. They have also been given funding to hire more MSHA inspectors.

Merrifield goes on to offer some best practices:

 

MSHA standards require operators to maintain control of mobile equipment while it is in motion, and to operate at speeds consistent with conditions of mine roadways, tracks, grades, clearance, visibility and traffic.  When mobile equipment is not in motion, it must be stopped in a safe location and when not attended, parked in a manner that prevents it from moving and becoming a hazard to the operator or other miners.  In addition, mine supervisors and equipment operators need to continuously monitor and maintain roadways and berms and operate mobile equipment in a controlled, safe manner.  When operating excavators, position the as far from the water’s edge as feasible on firm, stable ground.  Don’t traverse unstable ground above a highwall and stay off and away from over-steepened stockpiles until they can be made safe.

 

You can download today’s Machinery and Equipment Hazards Alert here.

Considering the number of recent MSHA safety enforcement alerts, 2016 is going to be a very busy year for mine managers, safety professionals, and mine contractors. Prepare your company for MSHA compliance in 2016. MSC expert and  Ex-MSHA inspector, Kim Redding, has a free MSHA compliance video series.  Learn MSHA tips from a former MSHA inspector.

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