Drill Entanglement Targeted by MSHA in Agency AlertThe Department of Labor’s Mine Health and Safety Administration  (MSHA) is issuing a Drill Entanglement Safety Alert, in an effort to raise awareness on the risks inherent in the drilling and auguring business and to promote safe drilling practices and MSHA-compliant maintenance of drilling equipment. The MSHA release features a bullet-point style informational, which outlines examples of fatal or serious injuries in the drilling workplace and the best-practices which could have rendered them avoidable. This alert is one in a series of releases, all of which can be found on the MSHA Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health Resources page.

Drill entanglement and auguring accidents are uncommon but not wholly non-existent. In the drilling and auguring industry, alone, there have been seven instances of death in the drilling workplace, since 2002. When including numerous otherwise avoidable accidents, the rate of overall injury warrants concern.

The nature of the drilling workplace is one in which employees work with rotating machinery. Such rotating machinery can prove difficult to completely guard; clothing can become entangled or, worse, body parts, resulting in serious or, potentially, fatal injury. One of the ways that employers can combat this susceptibility for injury in the drilling workplace is by instituting an educational program, whereby employees are informed of the risk, inherent in operating such aforementioned machinery. This is a major topic in both the New Miner Training Program as well as the Miner Refresher Program.  Another useful method for employers is to practice a system where all employees in the drilling workplace are confirmed in line-of-communication to their colleagues. Because of the noisiness of the workplace, drill entanglement injuries are ofttimes unnoticed or the injured go too long without assistance. For this reason, it is important to ensure that the workplace “floor” or layout is situated so that all employees operating drilling machinery have a line-of-sight to their colleagues or are within a functional earshot. The overarching concept is to create a system which features regular and frequent communication between mine operators, contractors, and miners and where employees hold each other accountable in real-time.

There are a bevy of online MSHA certification and compliance training courses. Consider the importance and usefulness of a general mining or mining equipment course and the long-term benefit it may have on your health or the health of your employees.