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Mine Safety and Health Administration MSHA's Accident Prevention Program
Safety Idea

Highwall Miner and Auger Ignition Prevention

Safety Something YOU can live with!
Mine Type: All Mines
Category: Highwall & General Safety


From 2001-2009 there have been three ignitions involving auger miners and one involving a highwall miner. Serious consequences could have resulted from each incident. To decrease the probability of having a gas or dust ignition and associated injuries mine operators need to consider adopting these source, engineering, and administrative controls.

Source Control

  • Assure spacing / web control between holes is planned
  • Monitor for methane and oxygen gases & have audible and visual indicators
  • Inert the active hole with non-combustible gas or,
  • If applicable, use adequate ventilation and water sprays
Engineering Control

  • Use an adequate blast deflection shield to protect workers around the hole
  • Use chemically strengthened "shatterproof" glass in worker cab areas
  • Use survey/alignment control devices to assure true placement, alignment and completion of holes
Administrative Control

  • Do not position persons in direct line of the hole being mined and adjacent hole
  • Use diligence when aligning your equipment for the next hole to be mined
  • Inert adjacent holes and cover previous holes to maintain inert atmosphere in the event of an intersection to previous hole
  • Conduct a thorough search for old/abandoned gas wells
  • Train all miners regarding ignitions and mitigation controls
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Issued: 01/15/2010
Tag # AP2009-97611