MSHA issues best practices in fall protection

THE US Mine Safety and Health Administration reminded US mines this week to use fall protection when necessary in its release of best practices following a September fall fatality.

Donna Schmidt

Contractor miner-driller Robert Comer III, 38, was working at the Sugar Creek M-Class Mining MC No. 1 operation in Illinois the evening of September 23 when the incident occured.

According to the agency, Comer and four other employees were on the top deck of a two-deck work platform suspended in the shaft of the mine, which is currently under construction and not yet producing, when he fell through an opening in the center of the platform’s top deck to the bottom, a descent of about 38 feet. He was not wearing fall protection at the time.

“Comer and other employees were in the process of rigging out from a concrete pour and were getting ready to move the work deck, in which [he] and other employees removed a metal grate from the decking to allow the concrete pouring tube to be removed up the shaft,” county coroner Marty Leffler told local media.

In hopes of preventing similar incidents at other US mines, MSHA released the following best practices:

Always wear, and use, suitable fall protection when positioned or working where fall hazards exist;

Assure that fall protection systems for multiple workers allow for independent movement;

Establish work procedures to eliminate creating openings through which people may fall; and

Stop, Look, Analyze and Manage the hazards associated with each work task.

MSHA encouraged anyone with additional prevention ideas to submit them through its website, including the year of the incident and number of fatalities.

Comer’s death was the 12th in coal mining in 2009 and the second classified by MSHA as Slip/Fall of Person.

MC No. 1, controlled by the Cline Group, has 43 employees, primarily surface and office workers. MSHA lists the development begin date for the Franklin County complex as March 26, 2008.

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