MSHA Warning to Drill Operators

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has issued a drill entanglement safety alert to the mining community that rotating machinery exposes miners to risks of entanglement and serious injury or death, with an alert about the risk faced by operators who fail to follow safe drilling practices.

Drillers are exposed to rotating machinery that can entangle clothing and body parts and result in fatal or seriously disabling injuries. Drillers working alone or in remote areas must be able to communicate with others and be heard or seen. Focus on safe job procedures, comply with drilling safety standards and follow best practices to reduce the risk of death or injury.

At least seven workers have died in metal and nonmetal mining accidents involving drills since 2002.

MSHA stated in a news release that mine drill operators face their share of on-the-job risks. Failing to follow safe drilling practices can lead to fatal outcomes, as has been the case in recent years. In April 2014, a 53-year-old miner died in an underground gold mine in Elko County, Nevada, after his clothing caught in a jackleg drill.

Less than two years earlier, a 30-year-old contract driller at a shale quarry in Ulster County, New York, died in November 2012, as he attempted to thread a new drill steel manually when the drill head rotated and entangled him.

The statement added: “Paying attention to safe job procedures, staying clear of rotating drill and augers, complying with drilling safety standards and following best practices will reduce the risk of death or injury”.