MSHA Walk And Talk Visits To Emphasize Safety

Walk and Talk Visits targeting Safety Awareness being used by MSHAIn efforts to improve safety, MSHA will institute a series of walk and talk visits in efforts to reduce coal mining injuries and fatalities.

From October 2015 to August 2016, there have been over 1,000 injuries and 8 deaths in coal mines. The majority of injuries in these cases were due to, otherwise, avoidable issues. Of those causes of coal-mine injuries, those related to, powered haulage, machinery classification, and electrical malfunction, have proven to be the most frequent. Long identified as a dangerous field of work, coal-mining is now undergoing a national call to safety.

The United States Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is instituting a series of walk and talk  visits, throughout the country, in an effort to reduce those, otherwise, avoidable incidents of injury and to eliminate those accidents which have proven fatal. This national program is in response to the overwhelming amount of accidents which not only affect the health of the average coal miner, but also often result in restricted duty or missed days at work. Through September 30th, inspectors will visit coal miners who work in underground mines and will encourage them to “stop and take a breath”.

MSHA administrator, Joseph A. Main, said, “These walk and talk visits are intended to increase miners’ awareness of recent accidents, encourage the application of safety training and raise hazard recognition.”

Of those coal mine-related accidents, West Virginia led all states with 419 non-fatal incidents. Kentucky was next, with 191, followed by Pennsylvania, with 130, and Illinois, with 94. Twenty-one states recorded at least one incident.

The safety and livelihood of the coal miner is, oftentimes, dependent upon the supervision of a knowledgeable supervisor. Walk and Talk Visit have proven to be effective in boosting awareness and encouraging good safety practices. One resource which coal mining safety leaders may choose to utilize are MSHA-approved safety training courses.  A program to educate safety leaders and, subsequently, to implement a system of safety protocol, especially one that institutes a “stop and take a breath” rest period for coal mining employees, could effectively reduce unnecessary injury and downtime for employees. Courses for New Surface Miners and Annual Renewal Programs are available online for education and training of all personnel.



Drill Entanglement Alert Promotes Better Practice

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.

Coal Mine Dust Sampling Rule Reduces Lung Risks

Coal mine dust sampling is the target of new reform from the MSHACoal mine dust sampling  was the target in 2014, when the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration issued a new rule which featured comprehensive reform to the mining industry’s protocol. Among those requirements included in the new  rule were increases in the frequency with which mining businesses sampled their mine air and the incorporation of new mine dust sampling equipment. All of these changes were legislated in the form of this new rule in an effort to reduce instances of dust mine-related illnesses, such as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, emphysema, and progressive massive fibrosis.

The rule is outlined and implemented in different phases, the third of which is to be enacted on Aug. 1st, 2016. The coal mine dust sampling protocols consists of a three-tiered system whose overarching function is to lower the current respirable dust level to a final level of 1.5 mg per cubic meter of air. Inspection of respirable coal mine dust samples from phases I and II has yielded results that show approximately 99 percent of samples collected are in compliance with the new coal mine dust sampling standards. The most recent sampling processed more than 20,000 underground coal mine operator samples and incorporated real-time data from the Continuous Personal Dust Monitor, a newly implemented technology that provides miners with dynamic monitoring throughout their respective working shifts.

According to Joseph A. Main, MSHA assistant secretary of labor, “These positive results are due to the extraordinary efforts of MSHA and industry working to clean up the air that miners breathe and successfully implement the critical respirable dust rule to protect miners from a disease that has claimed tens of thousands of lives. The nation’s coal miners are better protected from debilitating and deadly black lung disease than ever before, but we still have much more work to do to prevent black lung so that miners can spend a career as a miner and not fear the disease.”

The progressive legislation, intended to combat such debilitating and potentially fatal diseases as black lung disease, is at the forefront of much-needed reform in the mining industry.  With regard to coal mine dust sampling, it represents an internal effort to improve mining safety regulations. To read more about mining safety training and mining industry regulatory practice, please consult MSHA’s <website.. New Surface Miners obtain detailed information about this and other safety related information in their 8 Hour New Surface Miner package available.

MSHA Requirements Proposal Improves Safety

MSHA Requirements Proposal to Enhance Safety and TransparencyOn June 7th, 2016, stakeholders met at the United States Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration headquarters in Arlington, VA to discuss, among other items, reform in workplace regulations for metal and non-metal mining. The new MSHA Requirements proposal is paramount to improving safety and transparency in the workplace.  They Include:

  • Making all workplace examinations readily available to miners
  • Pre-work exams
  • Detailed and signed exam notes, to be made on a daily basis, by mining operators
  • Prompt notice to all miners assigned to work areas which may be considered adverse

While this top-down proposition for reform in the  MSHA requirements  proposal does affect a more dynamic system of notice and coverage for employees in the mining workplace, the larger question is exactly how do these changes affect day-to-day policy for miners and mining operators. Does the mandated pre-work exam and detailed daily report place a higher onus of liability on the mining operator? Do the daily examinations create a precedent for an employee-review system, based on citations?

MSHA representatives assert that, at the heart of this reform, is the goal of accident prevention, stating that, “Effective working place examinations are a fundamental accident prevention tool.” Of the 122 mining fatalities in the past five years, MSHA believes that “many of these fatalities could have been prevented with better working place examinations.” The correlation being made by MSHA between workplace accidents and an inadequate system of examination and review is the underpinning for reform that they hope will reduce otherwise avoidable injuries in the mining community.

MSHA have published a copy of their MSHA Re proposed rule and a summary sheet of the new MSHA requirements proposal.

Once the MSHA proposition is published to the Federal Register, a 90-day comment period will commence, wherein all members of the mining community can voice their concerns in any of four public hearings.

These recently proposed reforms will undoubtedly affect the mining workplace. One way to stay up-to-date with any new MSHA requirements or regulations is to take an approved MSHA training course and certification program. You can take your New Surface Miner Training or your MSHA Annual Renewal courses right here, online from the comfort of your home from one of the world’s most trusted organization.