The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) reported that on Jan. 7, a 35-year-old continuous mining machine (CMM) operator was fatally injured when he was pinned between the remote controlled CMM and the coal rib; and on Jan. 11, a 32-year-old miner died while driving on a mine road when a tree fell from a highwall onto the cab of his pickup truck.
These were the second and third fatalities reported in 2022. Both accidents occurred at coal operations.
MSHA recommends the following best practices to avoid fatalities classified as “Machinery.”
- Operate equipment from a safe location. Stay out of “Red Zone” areas including pinch points, the CMM turning radius, and areas close to the ribs.
- Maintain proximity detection systems (PDS) in the approved operating condition.
- Perform the manufacturer’s recommended static and dynamic tests to assure the PDS is functioning properly. Verify that the shutdown zones are at sufficient distances to stop the CMM before contacting a miner.
- Wear miner wearable components in accordance with PDS manufacturer’s recommendations so warning lights and sounds can be seen and heard.
- Develop and implement procedures for tramming, repositioning, cable handling and moving remote controlled CMMs safely.
- Train miners on the function of PDS.
MSHA recommends the following best practices to avoid fatalities classified as “Falling, Rolling, or Sliding Rock or Material of Any Kind.”
- Examine highwalls frequently and from as many perspectives as possible (bottom, sides, and top/crest). Look for signs of instability such as cracks, sloughing, loose ground, and for fall of material hazards such as large trees and rocks.
- Train all miners to recognize hazardous highwall conditions.
- Conduct additional examinations as conditions warrant, especially during periods of changing weather conditions.
- Clear loose or potentially hazardous material from near the edge of highwalls and slopes, especially when persons will work or travel below.
- Develop and follow a ground control plan that addresses all potential hazards.