Where do you stand on the safety pyramid?

Did you know that statistically for a single serious accident there are 600 near misses, 30 accidents leading to property damage and 10 minor injuries occurring in the workplaces?

Today, MSHA released a safety alert referencing the Accident Pyramid Diagram by the US safety researcher, Frank Bird, and reminded workers that serious accidents don’t occur in isolation – there are usually underlying problems present when they occur.

That’s why analyzing your safety data to uncover trends and the pattern of safety incidents and violations can go a long way. Such approaches to safety can let you see crucial safety red flags and highlight areas requiring particular attention.

The safety organization also presented a few quick reminders to ensure injury-free workplace:  Read More

MSHA’s new online tool set to improve mining safety

Government organizations are increasingly embracing latest technologies to help make workplaces safer.

We recently blogged about OSHA’s first e-publication on ladder safety. And this time, MSHA released an online tracking tool to assist mine operators.

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FBI trains MSHA for better safety investigations

Accident or special investigations by MSHA may soon incorporate skills used by the FBI.

This week, MSHA announced that the FBI Laboratory’s Evidence Response Team Unit is facilitating a two-week course on conducting accident investigations for 18 of the agency’s accident and special investigators.

The training covers securing an accident scene, photographing and sketching, collecting and packaging evidence, conducting interviews, dealing with false or altered records, and releasing the scene.   Read More

Combining crane safety with a good cause

Many safety professionals in construction, mining, energy or other industries deal with cranes on a daily basis, and the importance of safety inspections on these types of equipment are well-known by operators and workers. There are many different types of cranes.

Even pink ones!

Browsing through American Cranes & Transport a few weeks ago we came across one photo that caught our attention. It was a pink crane. A pink…crane! Can you imagine? It would surely stand out as an unusual sight on any job site. Have you ever seen a pink crane in your life?

And have you considered doing something like this to stand out for a good cause?  Read More

A new rule and a lot of money for mine safety

Mine safety inspections by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) have revealed that there are a number of frequent hazardous conditions and safety violations that repeatedly expose workers to unnecessary health and safety risks. One of MSHA’s attempts to improve the situation, a new rule, is effective as of this month.

And so is the deadline to apply for $1.25 million in grants.  Read More

A mid-year analysis of mining safety

The U.S. Labor Department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has released a mid-year report on fatalities in mining industry across the United States. Mining safety is a frequent topic in our blog and when statistics like this come out we want to share them with you.

During the first half of 2012, 19 miners died at work-related accidents at the coal and metal/nonmetal mines across the country. This is during only six months. Five of these fatalities occurred on five consecutive weekends. And three involved mine supervisors.  Read More

MSHA puts mine safety spotlight on roof control

A corner rib fall. Source: NIOSH

Less than a week ago from today, a coal miner in eastern Kentucky suffered fatal injuries when he was crushed by a rib roll. A rib control incident can mean that a mine roof or wall failed. Roof and rib fall accidents have been on the rise, and so the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is launching its 2012 roof control campaign with a focus on underground mine ribs.

To make a long story short, almost a hundred miners are hurt each year due to poor roof and rib conditions, and some of the accidents are fatal. It’s unfortunate that a mining tragedy occurred prior to the launch of this campaign, but it highlights the fact that more needs to be done to improve this aspect of mine safety. Last year, when MSHA launched this annual campaign, the agency was able to report some declines in these areas. Not so, this year.

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Mine safety compliance is improving: MSHA

Enforcement strategies for safety in the mining industry are working, despite various challenges faced over the past two and a half years and the shock of one of the worst coal mine disasters in decades, according to one of the top officials at MSHA (the Mine Safety and Health Administration).

MSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, Joseph A. Main, says the administration is making a positive difference. He delivered these remarks at a one-day seminar called “Measuring Progress Toward a Safety Culture of Prevention in Mining,” hosted by Pennsylvania State University’s Miner Training Program. Read More

Mine safety survey in the works at MSHA

MSHA (the Mine Safety and Health Administration) wants to implement an anonymous survey around safety issues in mining, but first it’s trying to find out what setting and format that will result in candid and reliable responses from miners. After the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, MSHA heard that many miners were afraid to voice safety complaints, so the agency is working to understand the problem. The agency is accepting public comment on this initiative until March 19, 2012.

Part of what MSHA wants to find out with a survey is whether miners fully understand their rights under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, and the degree to which they believe they are free to exercise those rights at work. While the current pilot is focused on coal miners and coal mining communities, MSHA’s longer-term goal is to get input from across all mining sectors.

“What we hope to ultimately learn from this pilot and subsequent survey is how we can better educate miners on their rights to safe and healthful working conditions,” said Joseph A. Main, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health. “If a miner is denied the right to participate in safeguarding health and safety at his or her mine, it puts at risk not only the miner’s safety, but the safety of fellow miners.”

A sample survey can be found here. Some of the questions indicate MSHA is looking at details such as roles (whether a participant is a miner, a front line supervisor or foreman, or a mine manager), whether the workplace is unionized, and if the worker feels comfortable addressing health and safety concerns. See an example of the questions below.

“The overarching goal is for miners to be able to address health and safety concerns at work,” added Main. “But in order to achieve that goal, we’ve first got to pinpoint the reasons why some don’t speak up. We heard testimony at congressional field hearings after the Upper Big Branch disaster about miners who were afraid to make safety complaints for fear of losing their jobs. We want to know what areas of the country and in what mining sectors this and other factors affect miners’ exercise of their rights.”

MSHA is the third agency in the department to initiate this type of survey, following the Wage and Hour Division and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

MSHA compliance inspections to target key safety standards

Starting in the spring, special safety and compliance inspections by the Mine Safety and Health Administration will focus on some of the standards that may have the greatest impact on reducing accidents and death in mining. Even though mine fatalities fell to near record lows last year, data from the past decade shows more focus is needed. According to MSHA, 609 miners lost their lives in workplace accidents from 2001 through 2010. Violations associated with eight coal standards contributed to 58 deaths during this period, while violations associated with six metal and nonmetal standards contributed to 47 deaths.

This week, MSHA launched the third phase campaign designed to strengthen efforts to prevent mining fatalities. “Rules to Live By III: Preventing Common Mining Deaths” focuses on 14 safety standards, each chosen because related violations contributed to at least five mining accidents and at least five deaths during last decade. The first phase of “Rules to Live By” began one year ago.

Beginning April 1, MSHA will focus more attention on these 14 standards with enhanced enforcement efforts, increased scrutiny for related violations, and instructions to inspectors for more carefully evaluating gravity and negligence.

Here are the standards under the microscope for this phase of the “Rules to Live By” program:

Coal Mining Standards

-75.362(a)(1) on-shift examination

-77.404(a) machinery and equipment; operation and maintenance

-77.405(b) performing work from a raised position; safeguards

-77.1000 highwalls, pits and spoil banks; plans

-77.1605(b) loading and haulage equipment; installations

-77.1606(a) loading and haulage equipment; inspection and maintenance

-77.1607(b) loading and haulage equipment; operation

-77.1713(a) daily inspection of surface coal mine; certified person; reports of inspection

Metal and Nonmetals Standards

-46.7(a) new task training

-56.3130 wall, bank and slope stability

-56.3200 correction of hazardous conditions

-56.15020 life jackets and belts

-56.14100(b) safety defects; examination, correction and records

-57.14100(b) safety defects; examination, correction and records

MSHA inspectors will be receiving online training to promote consistency in enforcement activity across the agency. The agency will also provide mine operators with program and resource information, and it will be reaching out to engage miners and their representatives during the course of MSHA inspections to disseminate appropriate compliance assistance materials, including engineering suggestions, safety target materials packages and other resources.

“In 2011, mining deaths fell to the second lowest annual total on record – a testament to the commitment of miners, mine operators, miners’ representatives, labor and industry organizations, state agencies and grantees, members of the mining community and MSHA,” said Main. “While the mining community achieved near-record low numbers of mining deaths in the United States and has seen a significant decline in fatal mining accidents during the past 10 years, too many miners still lose their lives in preventable accidents. The loss of even one miner causes devastation and pain to the victim’s family, friends and co-workers.”

For more information, you can check MSHA’s “Rules to Live By” page here.