The coal mining industry recently experienced five deaths at surface coal mines within a 41 day period. These five fatalities are more than half of the deaths at surface coal mines for 2011.
To remind operators, miners and contractors to stay focused on preventing fatalities and injuries, the Mine Safety and Health Administration is distributing two surface coal mine fatality alerts: one for highwall safety and one for bulldozer safety. These provide critical information on best practices and preventative measures.
The attached Safety Alerts can be displayed at the mine to remind surface mine operators, miners, and contractors of the fatalities that occurred between October 28 and December 7, 2011, and the best practices to use to avoid similar fatalities in the future. This information can also be found on the MSHA web site at http://www.msha.gov/alerts/SafetyFlyers/safetyflyers.htm, along with printable posters.
Fatalities are preventable. Mining workplaces can and must be made safe for miners and operators must ensure that safety procedures are always followed. The work environment must be evaluated before each shift and continually monitored throughout the shift. Many mines operate every shift of every day, year in and year out, without a fatality or lost-time injury. It can be done. It requires focus, effort and dedication.
Fatalities can be prevented by using effective safety and health management programs in your workplaces. Workplace examinations for hazards – on every shift, and throughout the shift – can identify and eliminate hazards that kill and injure miners. Effective and appropriate training will ensure that miners recognize and understand hazards and how to control or eliminate them. Mine operators and trainers need to train miners and mine supervisors on the hazardous conditions that lead to deaths and injuries and the measures to prevent and avoid them. Ground control plans and safe work procedures involving equipment and personnel working near highwalls should be constantly reviewed and assessed to assure miners are adequately protected.
The following additional Best Practices are recommended to prevent surface fatalities:
MSHA has taken a number of actions to identify mines with health and safety problems and initiated several outreach and enforcement initiatives, including “Rules to Live By”, a fatality prevention program spotlighting the safety and health standards most frequently cited during fatal accident investigations. We believe those actions, along with initiatives by the mining industry, will help prevent mining injuries and deaths.
No miner should die on the job while trying to earn a paycheck. We must all work together to ensure that all miners can go home safe and healthy at the end of each shift.
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