MSHA urges safe US winter

WITH the approaching winter season in the United States, the Mine Safety and Health Administration this week reminded workers of the hazards associated with the colder weather.
MSHA urges safe US winter MSHA urges safe US winter MSHA urges safe US winter MSHA urges safe US winter MSHA urges safe US winter


Donna Schmidt

The annual Winter Alert, this year entitled "Don't Leave Safety Out in the Cold," includes tips for prevention of injuries at both underground and surface operations.

Winter, the agency noted, is historically the most active season for coal mine explosions: "Coal mine explosions increase during the winter months when low barometric pressure, low humidity and seasonal drying cause methane to migrate more easily into the mine atmosphere."

Among the preventive practices for underground mines are ensuring proper ventilation, applying rock dust liberally, conducting examinations on a frequent basis, and examining escapeways.

Surface operations are reminded to thoroughly examine highwalls, clear walkways of ice and snow, remove ice from equipment, apply salt where and when needed and consistently check for hazards in work areas.

"Winter weather creates certain safety hazards that can affect working conditions at US mines; therefore, it is imperative that hazards are identified and minimised or removed to ensure a safe workplace for all miners," agency head Richard Stickler said Tuesday in a statement.

"Miners and mine operators must be vigilant to safety principles during wintertime when the weather increases the risk of fatal accidents."

The promotion will run from October through March 2008. During that period, Winter Alert posters, decals and hard-hat stickers will be made available to operators and miners along with best practices for safe procedure.