Since 2010, blasting accidents involving flyrock, misfires and toxic fumes have claimed the lives of seven miners. Two miners perished in a single event in 2013 and four died in explosives accidents in that year alone. The victims ranged from thirty to sixty-three years of age and their mining experience varied from a few weeks to thirty-six years. Although the number of mining fatalities has fallen slowly but steadily year by year, the frequency of explosives and blasting accidents remains stubbornly constant, averaging one per year. We must do better.
With the most recent fatality occuring only three months ago, the Institute of Manufacturers of Explosives (IME) and MSHA are jointly issuing this alert to focus industry’s attention on safe explosives handling practices. The entire mining industry - mine operators, independent contractors and individual miners - must focus on explosives and blasting hazards and the risks that come with using this basic mining material. Consider the tremendous energy unleashed with the push of a button, the power to instantaneously break thousands of tons of rock, and the grim consequences of errors, omissions and shortcuts. This is the time to review, implement and reinforce “Best Practices” for storing, handling, transporting and using explosive materials, including the safety practices listed in the Safety Alert. Everyone must commit to follow IME’s guidelines and MSHA’s safety standards to the letter.
Here is a link to the Explosives and Blasting Safety Alert recently published on MSHA’s website: Explosives and Blasting Safety - Alert. The Spanish language version is available here: Explosives and Blasting Safety – Alert (Spanish). These Alerts are available on MSHA’s Metal and Nonmetal Resource page under Monthly Fatality Prevention Initiatives, July 2016. Alerts published in previous months may also be accessed on this webpage.
MSHA plans to conduct “Walk and Talks” at mine sites again this month to discuss blasting hazards and best practices, and to enlist every mine, miner and mining industry group in the effort to end blasting accidents and the tragic losses that result. Please join IME and MSHA in this vital effort.