Hazardous Opening violations were cited by the United States Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in the death of a 46 year-old maintenance worker, Roderick Barnes. The Agency issued citations to Texas-based open pit mine and cement facility, Ash Grove Cement Company, and labor and equipment contractor, Superior Construction Maintenance, for various violations. These citations came as the result of a May 10th, 2016 MSHA investigation, which was prompted by the fatality . Both Ash Grove and Superior Construction, who was contracted by Ash Grove for labor at their facility, were found deficient in their processes.
MSHA determined that Barnes, who was asked to attend to a slurry tank rake by his supervisor, fell approximately 50 feet through a hazardous opening in the floor grating from a platform above the tank, to his death. MSHA determined that the following violations existed:
· Failure to provide protective devices to protect persons or materials from falling into the 3’ x 4’ opening in the floor
· Failure to ensure barricades and warning signs were provided to notify employees of the 3’ x 4’ opening in the floor
· Failure to ensure the use of fall-protection in a hazardous environment
In total, Ash Grove and Superior Construction Maintenance were issued 3 and 2 citations, respectively. Corrective actions taken to prevent recurrence of accidents at the site were as follows:
· Implementation of Hazardous Opening Protection Plan
· Implementation of Hazardous Opening & Handrail Removal Permit
· Implementation of Working at Heights Permit Program
· Installation of substantial barricades to prevent entry at floor-grating hole
· Posting of readily visible & legible warning signs at all points of entry, displaying the nature of the hazardous opening and protective action required
· Development of a written fall protection policy
· Training of all affected miners on the use of appropriate fall protection and the mandatory policy for use of those systems
Fall-protection and signage to notify employees of the necessity and mandatory policy for the use of fall protection are necessary for all employees in the mining industry. One resource that safety leaders can utilize to ensure MSHA compliance and the safety of their employees is a MSHA-approved training course such as the New Surface Miner Training Package and the Surface Miner Annual Renewal Package available.