The MSHA Alliance Program recently issued a new safety alert, Structural Failure Alert: Best Practices to Prevent Structural Failures. The MSHA Alliance Program is a voluntary partnership program that allows MSHA to collaborate with industry groups to provide training and education, outreach and technical assistance to mine operators and miners on improving mine safety and health.

The latest publication under the MSHA Alliance Program focuses on preventing structural failures. The safety alert encourages operators to train miners and supervisors on some simple measures to help identify the signs of structural damage and prevent a potentially catastrophic incident. Specifically, operators are reminded to make good housekeeping a priority by removing spillage and water build-up from around the base of structures, columns and off the flanges of horizontal beams since accumulation of wet material can cause corrosion.

Operators also are encouraged to have their safety and supervisory personnel inspect structures during audits and train miners on identifying and reporting structural problems. The safety alert notes that operators should examine structural supports made out of steel, concrete, wood, masonry, aluminum and fiber-reinforced polymer during inspections, and it provides a list of the signs of structural damage that miners should be on the lookout for and report to management personnel if discovered.

The MSHA Alliance Program encourages operators to engage a qualified structural engineer if damage is detected and repairs are needed. In addition, the MSHA Alliance recommends that operators barricade and post warning signs around areas where structural problems may have been detected to prevent entry pending those repairs.

To learn more about the signs of structural damage and what miners should be on the lookout for, you can review the safety alert on MSHA’s webpage.