Included are documents and source references in support of an initiative to raise stake holder's awareness of the increased hazards associated with the changing of seasons and the onset of spring. Late winter and early spring generally result in an increase of activity at surface coal mines, preparation plants, and at the surface areas of underground coal mines. Seasonal changes impact upon many aspects of mining activity and often results in an increase in haulage, machinery, maintenance, and other surface mining related accidents. Listed below are a few common hazards associated with the changing seasons:
Frequent freeze / thaw conditions loosen once solid rock on highwalls, road cuts and portal face ups.
Structural fills of coal mine refuse, materials for constructing impoundments, and filled areas for building facilities, roads or stockpiles cannot be properly constructed of wet / frozen materials. Frequent freeze / thaw cycles will contribute to ground condition instability.
Sudden and excessive precipitation can often create ground water sufficient to overcome drainage systems, damage road surfaces, plug culverts and decants, fill settling ponds and overpower designed capacities and spillways at impoundments.
Wet and muddy roads, deferred berm and road repairs, damaged dump points, or fill areas compromised by thawing of frozen fill or excess moisture can pose serious operating hazards for surface haulage equipment operators and also increase maintenance demands. Field maintenance is also inconvenient and difficult under such conditions.
Muddy and adverse ground conditions accelerate wear on equipment braking systems. Haul trucks and other mobile equipment require more frequent maintenance and cleaning to maintain operator visibility. Effective equipment lighting is also problematic under wet and muddy conditions. There is often an increased need for thorough pre-operating inspections and immediate corrective maintenance.
Higher wind loading, greater accumulations of mud or spillage, accelerated corrosion, more frequent mechanical damage, and adverse conditions for examination and maintenance can stress aging or deteriorated structures beyond the designed limits.