NIOSH Offers Tips for Flyrock Safety

New training materials from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provide mining and construction employers with information on flyrock safety during blasting.

According to the agency, the brochures, flashcards and toolbox talk materials can be used as refresher training for employees and as introductory safety materials for onsite visitors.

The materials include toolbox talks on: flyrock and its characteristics; warnings and signals used in blast areas; clearing procedures for blast areas; and ways to prepare oneself for each unique blast. NIOSH also has developed a pamphlet geared for visitor safety in blast areas and a more-detailed brochure on worker safety in blast areas.

According to NIOSH, the materials were developed for use in short safety training sessions. The materials "can be tailored to any work setting by substituting appropriate examples and by discussing the individual teaching points in relation to the work site."

NIOSH defines flyrock as "any debris that lands outside the designated blasting area. It can vary in mass from marble-sized to car-sized and can be incredibly dangerous and potentially fatal." The agency notes that from 1978 to 2004, 311 people were killed or injured by flyrock at surface mining operations.

"Flyrock can be the result of an overloaded blast hole, the presence of underground voids, insufficient burden or an inadequately sized blast area," NIOSH says. "Proper planning by the blaster is necessary prior to a blast to prevent or minimize the occurrence of flyrock."

The agency notes that 40 percent of blasting injuries and fatalities in mining occur when people are within the blast area. Consequently, "good blast area security is essential to ensure the safety of site personnel."

The new training materials are available on the NIOSH Web site.

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