The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is urging miners and operators to remain alert during the winter months as temperatures drop and safety hazards rise.
The agency is stressing best practices for all, including surface operations where clearing ice and snow from roads and walkways are at the top of the list, along with applying salt or sand to walkways for better traction. Other best practices include wearing footgear that grips; checking for slip and trip hazards; maintaining equipment to operate safely in cold weather; driving slowly and keep space between vehicles; examine equipment for exhaust leaks; always wearing a seatbelt; and checking the integrity of highwalls, benches and roadways, especially after each rain, freeze or thaw.
In addition to all of that, MSHA is reminding coal mines in particular to also be aware of the inherent risks winter brings for those mines. Best practices include to properly support the roof and be aware of changing roof conditions; properly ventilate the mine; keep clean all combustible materials in the mine; to apply liberal amounts of rock dust; and to conduct frequent examinations.
A printable winter safety checklist poster is available at msha.gov/winter-safety.
The agency said mines and workers can also get extra tips on keeping workers safe from cold stress and related hazards at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s winter weather webpage.