Best Practices Involving Large Diameter Pipe

Best Practices Involving Large Diameter Pipe

Loading and unloading materials, supplies and products are daily activities at mine sites; activities that are often involved in many workplace injuries and fatalities. Since 2008, six miners have died as a result of accidents related to handling large diameter pipe at Metal and Nonmetal mines.

Access the Fatalgrams for these six fatal accidents here.

Use of Best Practices Can Eliminate These Kinds of Accidents

  • Secure loads on trucks, forklifts and cranes.
  • Establish and discuss safe procedures before beginning work. Identify and control all hazards with the work to be performed along with the methods to properly protect persons.
  • Ground personnel should be highly visible. Unauthorized persons should be kept clear of the area. Examine work areas during the shift for hazards that may be created as a result of the work being performed.
  • Evaluate the stability of the material before unfastening a load. Pay particular attention to loads that may have shifted or become unstable during transport.
  • Stand clear of items of massive weights having the potential of becoming off-balanced while being loaded or unloaded.
  • Use taglines of sufficient length to adequately protect persons.
  • Unload materials on level ground and in a safe, controlled manner.
  • Monitor personnel routinely to determine that safe work procedures are followed.

More Information

Since 2008, six persons have died at metal and nonmetal mines in accidents involving large diameter plastic pipe.  Two delivery truck drivers were killed while their flatbed trucks were being unloaded at the mine.  In both cases, an unsecured section of pipe rolled from atop the truck’s load of pipe, fell and struck the driver as he stood nearby.  Two pipe crew supervisors, one a contractor, died while connecting sections of pipe using excavators and lifting straps to support and position the pipes.  One died when the pipe slipped out of the strap and struck him; the other was killed when the pipe sprung out of the positioning cradle and struck him.  A pipe foreman and a contract laborer were killed when they were struck or crushed by the pipe while assisting excavators reposition long sections of pipe using lifting straps.

A raised section of large diameter pipe represents a significant suspended load hazard.  Twenty-four (24) inch diameter pipe, which weighs about 35 pounds per linear foot, is commonly furnished in lengths of 50 feet, meaning each section weighs approximately 1,750 pounds.  Larger diameter pipes weigh more.  Also, because plastic pipes are flexible, suspended sections can wriggle, and bent sections on the ground can move unexpectedly as the pipe tries to straighten itself.  A miner in the line of fire of a moving pipe may be struck and badly injured by the heavy, moving mass.

MSHA standards require that materials not be stacked in a manner that creates a fall-of-material hazard, that taglines be attached to loads that may require guidance or steadying while suspended, and that hitches and that slings used to hoist materials be suitable for the particular material handled.  Mining operations should assess, identify and control all job hazards, establish safe work procedures and task train all members of the crew. Supervisors should monitor the jobsite to assure work proceeds safely.

Best practices when unloading pipes include assessing the stability of the load before unfastening restraints; assuring pipe sections remain properly restrained throughout the unloading process; and keeping ground personnel clear of the truck, its load and the equipment used to unload the pipes.  To prevent pipes from falling when the load is unfastened, secondary supports (such as side stakes) may need to be installed before unfastening the load. 

Best practices when handling, moving, splicing and positioning pipe includes assuring slings are in good condition and securely attached, staying clear of suspended pipes, and keeping pipes as straight as feasible to avoid any spring-like motion.

Below are downloadable PDF links for this Pipe Safety Alert:

You can use the photos and accident descriptions found in the Fatalgrams in this last link to prompt discussions about fatalities and how to prevent them.