Noting that 51 coal miners have been fatally injured in accidents involving machinery and powered haulage equipment over the past six-and-a-half years, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has released "Take Pride in Your Ride," a safety alert focused on machinery.
The agency said the leading cause of miner deaths during that period has been machinery accidents (with 27 deaths). The second leading cause has been powered haulage accidents (with 24 fatalities).
It said the deaths could have been prevented if a few "simple" rules were followed, including:
- Perform examinations of mobile equipment, a critical step in safe operations, for all mobile equipment, including a shuttle car, hauler, loader, scoop, drill, roof bolter, dozer, continuous mining machine, mantrip, or other related equipment. Maintenance of safe operating condition means adequate brakes, steering components, lighting, sounding devices, including bells and horns, unobstructed view of direction of travel, and seat belts.
- Assign undivided attention to equipment during operations and maintain full control of the equipment. Such attention is legally required. This includes knowing the grades being operating upon, the Mine's Safety Program, equipment limitations, traffic patterns and routes, and haul road conditions.
- Effectively communicate movements to others through the various means that miners use, including cap lamps, horns, bells, their voices, and two-way radios. This is critical in preventing accidents and deaths. Failing to communicate movements to others can result in accidents.
- Think about others around the miner. Ask questions, including: "Is my visibility obstructed?" "Where did another miner go?" "What are they doing?" "Do they know what I plan on doing?" "Can they see me?" These are important questions that emerge when operating equipment or being in close proximity to equipment being operated.
- Block, or chock, against motion, whether a continuous mining machine cutter head, belt conveyor, or a 10,000-pound hauler bed is necessary, using substantial blocking, based on manufacturer's recommendations and specifications.
- Stay out of the turning radius of a machine and limit exposure to the equipment's pathway.
- Train. This is required. Learn vital information and knowledge about the safe operation of equipment.