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MSHA Warns of Spike in Falls, Issues Safety Alert

June 26, 2020
Deaths from falls have surged to comprise 19% of mining fatalities.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has issued an alert following a rise in fatalities due to falls in the mining industry.

Deaths from falls have surged to comprise 19% of mining fatalities, up from 8% just two years ago.

"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," the agency stated. "Supervisors have been ordered down from dangerous locations."

Fall hazards in the industry arise from workers completing tasks on top of in aerial lift baskets, while accessing and egressing other mobile equipment or while performing maintenance on crushers, screens, conveyors and other milling equipment.

Between January 2019 and June 2020, MSHA issued 92 imminent danger orders for workers at heights observed without fall protection.

Agency best practices for fall protection include the following:

  • Reduce hazards. Design work areas and develop job tasks to minimize fall hazards.
  • Have a program. Establish an effective fall prevention and protection program. Provide task and site-specific hazard training that prohibits working at unprotected locations.
  • Provide a fall protection harness and lanyard to each miner who may work at an elevated height or a location unprotected by handrails. Ensure their use.
  • Provide identifiable, secure anchor points to attach lanyards.
  • Proactively enforce fall protection equipment usage and safe work-at-height policies and procedures with supervisors, miners, contractors, and truck drivers.
  • Provide mobile or stationary platforms or scaffolding at locations and on work projects where there is a risk of falling.
  • Provide safe truck tarping and bulk truck hatch access facilities.

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