At the 2015 National Safety Council (NSC) Congress & Expo in October, the American Labor Department’s OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), announced their annual list of top 10 occupational safety violations. While their final report will only be published in the December edition of the Council’s Safety + Health magazine, preliminary figures rank violations by number of citations with Fall Protection Violations coming in at the top of the list.
NSC President and CEO, Deborah A.P. Hersman clarifies the importance of these statistics:
“In injury prevention, we go where the data tells us to go. The OSHA Top 10 list is a roadmap that identifies the hazards you want to avoid on the journey to safety excellence.”
In underground and surface mining operations, safety violations not only puts at risk the lives of workers for the duration of the incident. Occurance of injuries and deaths in mining can have a long term effect on labour relations, operational activities and consequently, the job security of those employed by this industry.
Prevention of injuries in mining is therefore not a ‘nice to have’, but a necessity. To help you improve safety and efficiency in your mining operation, here is a list of the Top 10 Occupational Safety Violations accompanied by some helpful resources.
Fall Protection Violations – Safety Regulation 1926.501
There are a wide variety of situations in mining operations above and below the ground that presents the risk of falls. These range from simply climbing a ladder to slipping and falling while operating from an elevated construction, machine or truck.
Hazard Communication Violations – Safety Regulation 1910.1200
Mining operations have the potential to produce unnaturally high concentration of chemicals, such as arsenic, sulfuric acid, and mercury. The correct labelling of containers of hazardous chemicals and dangerous goods, as well as high risk areas, prevents the accidental exposure of workers with inadequate protective gear.
Scaffolding Violations – Safety Regulation 1926.451
Common causes of scaffolding injuries in mining ranges from overloading, to the mix and match of components from different scaffolding systems, to incorrect balancing and fastening of equipment. Scaffolding related violations are listed in third place of the most common safety violations of 2015, with a number of 4,295 citations, but can be overcome by following industry related guidelines.
Respiratory Protection Violations – Safety Regulation 1910.134
Dust inhalation or coal dust is one of the most common concerns for mine workers. Workers should undertake a field-fit test of their respiratory equipment on a daily basis to prevent inhalation of harmful substances and should be trained on the hazards of over-exposure. Regular medical screening and surveillance is also essential.
Lockout, Tagout Violations – Safety Regulation 1910.147
The failure to lock or tag power circuits and electrical equipment before use is one of the top 5 causes of all fatal mining accidents (MSHA). These tragedies can be avoided by equipping each energy-isolating device with a fixed padlock, lockout or tagout device.
Powered Industrial Trucks Violations – Safety Regulation 1910.178
Mining operations’ use of powered industrial trucks such as forklifts presents a high risk of injury. Accident can affect result in injury to bystanders when a truck strikes a worker, falls over onto someone, the forklift causes a load or stack to fall on someone or a passenger falls from a lift platform. Operators themselves can be injured while getting into or out of the truck, as result of a collision, or during collision with a body part outside of the truck.
Ladder Violations – Safety Regulation 1926.1053
OSHA regulations insist that stairways or ladders be provided in all access ways with a break of elevation of 48 cm (19 inches) or more where no ramp, runway, embankment or personnel hoist is available. Additionally, all stairways and ladders must be equipped with fall protection systems that conform to OSHA’s standards for ladders and stairways.
Electrical Wiring Violations – Safety Regulation 1910.305
Intrinsically safe circuits on electric face equipment, as well as proper installation and maintenance of field wiring, is of utmost importance to prevent shocks, fires and eplosions in mining operations.
Machine Guarding Violations – Safety Regulation 1910.212
Dangerous moving parts in operations that need to be guarded tend to be located in the point of operation (where the “action” of the machine happens, such as where a press cuts metal) or the power transmission apparatus (where the machine transmits energy to motion). These areas, as well as all other moving parts need to be inspected for safety hazards.
Electrical, General Violations – Safety Regulation 1910.303
Failure to exercise caution when operating or repairing electrical equipment is responsible for a large number of injuries in mining operations. Being aware of the common electrical hazards in underground mines can help you to identify safety risks and take preventative measures.
Mine Safety that Goes Beyond the Basics
While many incidents of injury and death can be prevented by adhering to protocol and regulations, the safety paradox of the mining industry is that one cannot realistically expect to eliminate the occurrence of human error and natural disaster. While strict compliance with safety measures has the potential to prevent injuries and death, mining operations should also have a high standard emergency response teamteam available for when incidents do occur.
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