MSHA Kicks Off Annual Winter Alert Campaign

Nov. 8, 2010
On Nov. 1, MSHA kicked off its 2010 Winter Alert campaign to warn miners and mine operators about the dangers colder weather can bring to the mining environment.

Historically, statistics show that most coal mine explosions occur during the colder months.

“Conditions at underground and surface coal mines can change dramatically during colder weather,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “Miners and mine operators should always be mindful of the dangers and hazards they may face this time of year.”

Low barometric pressures and low humidity, coupled with seasonal drying of many areas in underground coal mines, have contributed to the larger number of mine explosions during winter months. Other hazards include limited visibility; icy haulage roads and walkways; and the freezing and thawing effect on highwalls at surface mines.

MSHA urges miners and mine operators at underground coal mines to follow safety checklists by ensuring there is adequate ventilation, applying liberal amounts of rock dust, conducting frequent and thorough examinations and being familiar with emergency procedures to prevent coal mine ignitions and explosions.

Miners also should be vigilant about keeping escapeways clear of impediments. Miners and operators of surface mines should examine the stability of highwalls, remove snow and ice from walkways, de-ice any equipment and apply salt and sand liberally where needed.

During their normal inspection duties, MSHA inspectors will distribute posters and hardhat stickers with the slogan “Beat Winter Hazards, Win with Winter Alert” to alert miners about potential risks.

About the Author

Laura Walter

Laura Walter was formerly senior editor of EHS Today. She is a subject matter expert in EHS compliance and government issues and has covered a variety of topics relating to occupational safety and health. Her writing has earned awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), the Trade Association Business Publications International (TABPI) and APEX Awards for Publication Excellence. Her debut novel, Body of Stars (Dutton) was published in 2021.

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