English | Spanish

MSHA’s Initiative to Combat the Deadliest Month in Mining

Posted on: October 05, 2015

Assistant Secretary Joseph A. Main

October historically has been the most deadly month in the metal and nonmetal mining industry. Since 2000, 51 fatalities have occurred, many of which involved powered haulage and machinery accidents that happened as miners disassembled portable plants or relocated equipment.

The recent trend of increased deaths at metal nonmetal mines also began in the fall of 2013 following years of mining deaths at historic low levels.

With the onset of cooler weather, many intermittent metal and nonmetal mining operations have begun preparing for winter by performing annual shutdown activities. In addition, this is the time of the year when full-time operations are conducting their annual repairs. During this seasonal transition, miners may engage in new or unfamiliar tasks, working with equipment they service only once a year or assisting maintenance personnel on jobs they rarely perform.

To combat this annual trend, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) launched a safety initiative today that includes enhanced enforcement, education and outreach, such as informational “walk and talks” at mine sites. Metal and nonmetal enforcement will lead this effort, joined by coal enforcement and personnel from MSHA’s Educational Field and Small Mines Services who will assist in these activities, by talking to mine operators and miners and calling attention to potentially hazardous tasks and conditions and best mining practices. This initiative is part of MSHA’s ongoing efforts to reduce fatalities in metal and nonmetal mines.

MSHA’s heightened vigilance during this period will focus additional resources on preventing accidents at intermittent mining and full-time mining operations. We are going to be looking hard for the conditions that have led to mining deaths. We strongly encourage the mining industry to join us in these efforts.

To that end we are sending out similar information today to stakeholders, alliances, mines and miners in the metal nonmetal industry.

This is the time for mine operators to be proactive, which includes conducting workplace examinations to identify and fix hazards and properly training their miners so that they can recognize and avoid dangerous conditions and return home at the end of their shift.

A link follows to a Seasonal Safety Alert recently published on MSHA's website: http://arlweb.msha.gov/Alerts/seasonal-safety-alert-0923.pdf

For more information on the mining deaths that have occurred and best practices to prevent them, please go tohttp://arlweb.msha.gov/alerts/seasonal-safety-alert.pptx