Search form

Mine Safety Agency Issues Alert for Water-Related Fatalities

By Carla J. Gunnin
  • September 22, 2016

Working around, over, or near water is a safety hazard that may result in entrapment and drowning, the Mining Safety and Health Administration has warned in a hazard alert.

The federal agency said 24 miners have died at metal and nonmetal mines and facilities while working on or near water since 2005.

In a recent letter to metal and nonmetal (M/NM) mine operators, Neal H. Merrifield, administrator for metal and nonmetal mine safety and health at MSHA, wrote, “Whether working on a dredge, driving a haul truck, or operating a bulldozer, miners are at risk of drowning or entrapment when they work near water.”

He added, “The positive steps that operators, contractors and miners take to avoid unsafe acts and conditions combine to protect individuals against drowning and entrapment at M/NM operations.”

The agency said safety risks include: traveling or operating heavy equipment near water, equipment weight and vibration, undercut soil banks at water’s edge, sloughing ground, varied water depths, swift water currents, inadequate berms, narrow roadways, and electrocution.

Merrifield wrote, “Following precautions to control safety in the environment and equipment when working on the surface helps to protect miners because they cannot see what is beneath the water.”

The agency recommended the following “best practices”:

  1. Conduct a daily workplace check, especially for loose material along haul roads and travel areas near water;
  2. Know water depth, subsurface conditions, and ground conditions before work begins;
  3. Keep equipment a safe distance from the water’s edge;
  4. Avoid traveling over ice-covered water;
  5. Provide secure and stable handrails at workboats and dredges around docks and workboats near water hazards;
  6. Make certain berms are continuous and at least mid-axle high near water hazards;
  7. Miners must wear a life vest, “preferably a Type I or Type V personal flotation device (PFD) approved by the Coast Guard,” for the entire time they work on water;
  8. Keep water rescue equipment easily accessible;
  9. Know where extra PDFs and rescue rings are stored; and
  10. Provide good housekeeping and keep all travel ways clear around water hazards; areas where miners travel must be free of tripping hazards, so make sure all work areas are clean and orderly.

The safety alert was released in response to a suggestion by the State of Oklahoma Department of Mines.

“Failure to be attentive to water hazards can have deadly results,” Merrifield said.

Operators should consider using this hazard alert as a part of daily safety trainings. Please contact Jackson Lewis to discuss safety protections and other MSHA requirements.

©2016 Jackson Lewis P.C. This Update is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney/client relationship between Jackson Lewis and any readers or recipients. Readers should consult counsel of their own choosing to discuss how these matters relate to their individual circumstances. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the express written consent of Jackson Lewis.

This Update may be considered attorney advertising in some states. Furthermore, prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Jackson Lewis P.C. represents management exclusively in workplace law and related litigation. Our attorneys are available to assist employers in their compliance efforts and to represent employers in matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. For more information, please contact the attorney(s) listed or the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work.

See AllRelated Articles You May Like

November 12, 2018

Voters in Three States Approve Marijuana Laws on Election Day

November 12, 2018

Three states approved new marijuana laws on Election Day 2018. Voters approved medical marijuana laws in Missouri and Utah, while Michigan voters approved a recreational marijuana law. Michigan: Recreational Marijuana Michigan Proposal 1 was passed by a majority (approximately 55% “Yes” and 45% “No”). Proposal 1, the Michigan... Read More

October 18, 2018

Workplace Violence: How to Evaluate the Risks and Reduce the Potential Hazards

October 18, 2018

Every year, nearly two million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence. Sadly, the actual number of cases is likely much higher — many cases go unreported. According to the Department of Justice, on a daily basis, employers and employees nationwide deal with workplace assault, domestic violence, verbal abuse... Read More

October 16, 2018

New OSHA Guidance: Certain Safety Incentive Programs, Post-Accident Drug Tests Permissible

October 16, 2018

Most safety incentive programs and post-incident drug testing policies will not be considered retaliatory and unlawful under a new Standard Interpretation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA’s “Clarification of OSHA’s Position on Workplace Safety Incentive Programs and Post-Incident Drug Testing Under... Read More

Related Practices