MSHA Alert: Highwall safety

Therese Dunphy

February 1, 2013

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) reports the first metal/non-metal fatality of 2013 took place on Jan. 19. An assistant plant manager had been working on a lift to take samples from a highwall when a large rock fell and struck him. He died 12 days after the incident. 

MSHA recommends best practices, including the following:

  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures for working near highwalls.
  • Identify and control all hazards.
  • Train personnel to recognize adverse conditions and environmental factors that decrease highwall stability, and understand safe job procedures to eliminate all hazards before beginning work.
  • Look, listen, and evaluate pit and highwall conditions daily, especially after each rain, freeze, or thaw.
  • Remove loose or overhanging material from the face.
  • Correct hazardous conditions by working from a safe location.
  • Ensure that work or travel areas and equipment are a safe distance from the toe of the highwall.
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