Use caution near moving equipment: MSHA

THE US Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a safety alert for the nation’s underground mines following an alarming upward trend of serious injuries and fatalities related to workers being pinned, crushed, run over or struck by moving equipment.
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Courtesy MSHA.

Donna Schmidt

The agency said this week that five miners had been fatally injured in incidents involving moving face equipment since the beginning of 2010.

Of those events, two continuous miner operators were crushed between the rib and the CM, two were crushed after being run over by a shuttlecar or ramcar, and one continuous miner operator was crushed between a shuttle car and the mine rib.

Other workers have received serious injuries from incidents involving continuous miners, shuttlecars, ramcars, scoops, and roof bolters this year.

“Year after year since mobile equipment has been in use, miners have been crushed, run over, pinned by, or struck by, moving equipment,” MSHA said in its alert.

“These accidents can be prevented. One way is by getting our brain into a habit of thinking through and applying best practices before we move that piece of equipment.”

The agency developed a list of best practices for mines to help prevent injury or death in similar incidents.

First, all miners are reminded to never position themselves on an area or location where they cannot readily be seen by equipment operators and to always wear reflective clothing.

Operators of mobile equipment should always ensure no other miners are in the area of travel for the machine before beginning to move. Before starting or tramming equipment, sound warnings; this is also necessary when visibility is obstructed, such as when turning, reverse traveling or operating near curtains.

When possible, MSHA noted, mines should use translucent curtains underground. This will enhance visibility for workers on both sides of the device.

All operations should have proactive programs and policies regarding starting and tramming equipment, with mandated actions such as sounding an alarm or blowing a whistle. All crews and management must be trained in those programs, policies and procedures, and operations must ensure they are followed at all times.

Machine operators should also check the turning radius of the unit before travel begins, and when cutting, loading, or tramming CMs from one location to another, crews must make sure that all operators are in a safe location.

Finally, MSHA stressed the importance of installing and maintaining an electronic proximity protection device on all underground equipment. Federal officials have developed a single-source page for more details of the technology at