The Mine Safety and Health Administration reported that as of July 12, nine miners have been killed and 185 have been injured in accidents involving powered haulage equipment.
Year to date, this is the highest number of powered haulage fatalities since 2006.
That’s why the agency, on July 20, hosted a national Stand Down for Safety Day focused on powered haulage and vehicle rollovers to help educate miners, save lives and prevent injuries. MSHA recommends improving:
Visibility Blind Areas
The lack of visibility is a problem inherent to the use of large haulage trucks in the mining industry. There are areas around equipment in which the equipment operator cannot see other miners, equipment, or structures. These blind areas have contributed to equipment operators colliding with other equipment and striking miners.
- Do not assume large equipment operators can see you or your vehicle. Stay in the line of sight.
- Do not pull into or park in the blind area of a haulage truck.
- Position yourself in a safe location away from the blind areas around haulage equipment.
- If an equipment operator is not certain of their surroundings, or does not know that the travelway immediately ahead is clear, radio others and get an ALL CLEAR signal before moving.
- Verify that the work area is clear before moving haulage equipment.
- Ensure all persons are trained to recognize the limited visibility and blind areas inherent to the operation of haulage equipment.
Because of limited visibility, effective communication with equipment operators is vital. The lack of effective communication has led to many preventable accidents.
- Establish and follow communication protocols that require verbal verification for all equipment operators.
- Communicate and verify with all equipment operators planned movements and locations upon entering a work area.
- Before approaching large equipment, make eye contact or radio contact with the equipment operator.
- Convey clear intentions and confirm both parties clearly understand communications. There is no room for misinterpretation.
- Sound your horn to warn miners that you are about to move and wait to give them time to get to a safe location.
- Wear high visibility clothing when working around powered haulage equipment.
Traffic management is an essential part of assuring safe conditions at a mine. The design and maintenance of roadways and dumping locations play an important role in surface haulage safety.
- When placing signs, consider the time it takes for an equipment operator to see, read, and react to a sign, as well as braking and stopping distances of each type of equipment in operation at the mine site.
- Size, height, lateral placement, and lighting are important factors in determining whether signs are visible to the equipment operator.
- Too many signs at one location may cause confusion and lead to accidents.
- Signs should be in the language understood by miners and equipment operators.
Seat Belt Use
One of the easiest things an equipment operator can do is properly wear a seat belt. Wearing a seat belt protects against injury or death in the event of a serious accident. It is the single most effective action equipment operators can do to protect themselves in a collision, tip-over or rollover.
- Always wear your seat belt; wear it to the job, at the job, and from the job.
- In the event of a collision, tip-over, or rollover your seat belt will keep you in the protected space of the machine cab or vehicle.
- Never jump from a moving vehicle. Remain in the seat with your seat belt secured.
- Inspect the seat belt and mounting hardware before operating the equipment.
- Replace damaged or worn parts.
- Install advanced systems that restrain miners during a rollover.
Many haulage fatalities involve trucks going over the edge of piles or dumping points. Dumping short of the edge or moving to another location when potentially unsafe conditions arise can prevent dumping accidents.
- Always dump material in a safe location. If ground conditions aren’t stable, dump a safe distance back from the edge and push the material over the edge manually or use other equipment that does not need to be close to the edge.
- Never load material from the bottom edge of a material pile directly below an active dump point. This may lead to an over-steepened and unstable slope.
- Never drive haul trucks beyond cracks on the top of the dump site.
- Always construct substantial berms as a visual indicator to prevent over-travel or overturning of equipment.
- Clearly mark dump locations with reflectors or markers.
- Before moving to a new dump location, examine the slope below the dump point to ensure it is not cut out or over-steepened.
- Train miners to use safe dumping procedures and recognize dumping hazards.