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

ROCK DRILL HAZARD ALERT !!!!

Safety Something YOU can live with!
Mine Type: All MNM Mines
Category: Drilling/Blasting/Explosives


Recently, a twenty-two year old rock drill operator with one-year of mining experience was fatally injured at a dimension stone quarry. The victim was spot drilling along the highwall with a rock drill/slot drill when his clothing became entangled in the rotating drill steel while trying to free a dust suction hose. Since 1984, five operators of machine mounted rock drills have been killed as a result of entanglement in rotating drill steel.

Best Practices

Photo of Rock Drilling Equipment Photo of Rock Drilling Equipment
  1. Always establish written policies for the type of clothing and methods to secure clothing when working around equipment and ensure these policies are followed. Never wear loose/bulky clothing around drilling or other equipment with rotating or exposed moving parts.


  2. Always provide safe routing of hoses and cables on and around drilling equipment. Design proper hangers, guides, stand-offs and entrances to eliminate the necessity of handling hoses or cables in close proximity to rotating/moving equipment and to eliminate tripping hazards.


  3. Always ensure controls are located/positioned to provide safe performance in all operating conditions. As necessary, the controls should be designed to adapt to the mining conditions and the operator's size, height, and reach.


  4. Always ensure machine controls and safety devices are operating properly. Never over-ride, bypass, tie-down, or jumper out machine control safety equipment.


  5. Always provide emergency stop/shut-off switches, panic bars, dead man devices, tethers, slap bars, rope switches, two handed controls, spring loaded controls, etc in easily accessible locations.


  6. Always provide danger zone guarding between controls and rotating equipment (i.e. drill steel). Design guarding to be adaptable to mine conditions and the operators size, height, reach, etc.

  7. Always practice good housekeeping around drilling equipment.


  8. Always incorporate written safe operating procedures into safety and training programs. The procedures should be made available and regularly reviewed with drill operators. Standard safe operating procedures should emphasize the importance of shutting down the drills when performing tasks near the rotating steel.


  9. Always wear proper personal protective equipment (safety glasses, hardhat, boots and gloves) when operating drilling equipment.


  10. Always thoroughly examine for hazardous conditions when working adjacent to highwalls.


Reissued: 01/27/2003
Tag # AP2003-Z001


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