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Safety Topics

Active and Abandoned Mine Sites

Each year throughout the nation dozens of people are injured or killed while exploring or playing on mine property. The men and women employed in our nation's mines are trained to work in a safe manner. For trespassers, hazards are not always apparent.

Water-filled quarries and pits hide rock ledges, old machinery and other hazards. The water can be deceptively deep and dangerously cold. Steep, slippery walls make exiting the water difficult. Hills of loose material can easily collapse on an unsuspecting biker or climber. Vertical shafts can be hundreds of feet deep and may be completely unprotected or hidden by vegetation.

Aerial Lift

Aerial Lifts can present several hazards that have resulted in fatalities. These include falls from height when the platform is elevated and struck-by or caught-between hazards when braking or blocking systems do not function properly or safe work practices are not effectively implemented and followed.

Best Practices:

  • Check all equipment before using it. Report all defects affecting safety to a responsible person for correction.
  • Service and maintain hydraulic systems according to the manufacturer’s specifications and schedules. Excessive pressure in a hydraulic circuit can drastically alter the control of booms, etc., creating serious hazards.
  • Instruct aerial lift users on hazard recognition and safe job procedures to avoid unsafe conditions.
  • Train lift operators in safe operating procedures listed in the operator’s manual.
  • Report equipment malfunctions and remove the equipment from service until repaired.

Blasting and Explosives

Every part of the blasting cycle has the potential for serious accidents or injuries. Historically, the principal causes of surface metal/ nonmetal blasting-related accidents include premature detonation, impacting (drilling into) explosives, flying rock, cap or detonator accidents, extraneous electricity, improper transportation or handling of explosives, and improper guarding. The best practices listed on this card are generic and apply to all types of surface metal/nonmetal mining.

Remember to:

  • NEVER smoke or use open flames near explosive materials.
  • NEVER transport detonators with other explosives.
  • ALWAYS stop blasting operations if a storm is in the area.
  • NEVER run equipment over loaded boreholes.
  • ALWAYS provide adequate protection from flying rock.
  • NEVER reenter the blasting area until the “all clear” is given.


  • NEVER store detonators in the same magazine with other explosive materials.
  • ALWAYS keep blasting caps under lock and key.
  • ALWAYS keep magazines locked.
  • NEVER use explosive materials that have become water soaked – even if they appear to have dried out.
  • ALWAYS handle packages of blasting supplies carefully – do not throw or drop them.
  • NEVER reuse packaging from explosive materials.
  • NEVER smoke or use open flames anywhere near explosive materials.
  • ALWAYS store explosives in their respective ATF approved magazines.


  • ALWAYS transport explosives to the blast site in a timely manner.
  • NEVER transport detonators with other explosives.
  • ALWAYS maintain vehicles used to carry explosives in good condition. Make sure that the cargo space in the vehicle is properly maintained and complies with appropriate requirements.
  • ALWAYS make sure the vehicle used to carry explosives is equipped with appropriate fire extinguishers or a fire suppression system. Check to see that fire extinguishers are charged and accessible.
  • NEVER carry passengers when transporting explosives.
  • NEVER transport explosives with other sparking materials.


  • NEVER drill into explosive materials or into any hole that has contained explosive materials.


  • ALWAYS check holes for proper depth or obstructions before bringing explosive materials to the blast site.
  • ALWAYS make sure the blast area is clear before loading a shot.
  • ALWAYS continually check the weather around the blast site for storms and lightning.
  • ALWAYS follow proper procedures when making up primers.
  • NEVER prepare primers until right before placing them in the boreholes.
  • NEVER use electric blasting caps during dust, snow, or electrical storms.
  • ALWAYS stop blasting operations if a storm is in the area.
  • NEVER force explosive materials into blocked boreholes.
  • ALWAYS be alert for holes that have voids or open bottoms.
  • ALWAYS use care when loading boreholes to minimize the potential of damaging insulation on leg wires.
  • NEVER let connections touch the ground.
  • NEVER use splices in boreholes.
  • NEVER use tamping tools that may generate sparks, heat, or electrical current.
  • NEVER load boreholes near electric power lines if there is any possibility that leg wires could contact power lines.
  • NEVER run equipment over loaded boreholes.
  • NEVER use electric blasting caps near radio transmitters or any source of static electricity.


  • ALWAYS measure the resistance of cap circuits and blasting caps with a blasting galvanometer.
  • NEVER let a battery used to charge a blasting galvanometer come into contact with blasting cap wires.
  • ALWAYS use a multimeter to test for stray current and current leakage.
  • NEVER have any electric wires or cables near blasting caps (except the lead line) when getting ready to connect the lead line to the circuit.


  • ALWAYS make certain the blast area is clear of miners and equipment.
  • ALWAYS use audible warning signals and verbal and hand signals to make sure the blast area is clear.
  • ALWAYS be sure the blast area and all access roads are adequately guarded.
  • ALWAYS provide and use adequate protection from flying rock.


  • ALWAYS disconnect the lead line from the blasting machine and shunt the ends immediately after a blast.
  • NEVER reenter the blasting area until all smoke, fumes, and dust have cleared.
  • ALWAYS check faces and muck piles for misfires.
  • NEVER handle a misfire in any way unless you are an experienced blaster.
  • ALWAYS look for burning blasting materials. Clear the area immediately if you find any burning blasting materials.
  • ALWAYS check highwalls for loose debris. Correct these problems before resuming work.
  • ALWAYS sound an audible all clear signal to indicate the blast site and all access roads are clear and safe.
  • ALWAYS wait at least one hour before going back on a shot when a misfire is detected.