Alarming Spike in Fatal Falls in Mining

Source: adam88x/123RF

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has recorded the deaths of 28 miners over the past decade, primarily due to falls from heights.

Deaths from falls have increased from 8% to 19% of mining fatalities in the last two years, due to:

  • Working without fall protection on top of trucks, in aerial lift baskets, and while accessing and egressing other mobile equipment; and
  • While performing maintenance on crushers, screens, conveyors, and other milling equipment

MSHA issued 92 imminent danger orders for people working at heights without fall protection between January 2019 and June 2020.

The most common violations were truck drivers climbing atop their vehicles, and maintenance and quarry personnel climbing to or working without fall protection in high places.

Supervisors have been ordered down from dangerous locations.

MSHA lists best practices for preventing fatal falls:

  • Design work areas and develop job tasks to reduce fall hazards;
  • Establish an effective fall prevention and protection program, and provide task- and site-specific hazard training;
  • Supply a fall protection harness and lanyard to each employee who might work at height or at a location unprotected by handrails;
  • Provide identifiable, secure anchor points to attach lanyards;
  • Enforce fall protection equipment use – as well as safe work-at-height policies and procedures – with employees;
  • Supply mobile or stationary platforms or scaffolding for projects that have fall hazards; and
  • Provide safe truck tarping and bulk truck hatch access facilities.