MSHA: Report released on contract driller fatality

Therese Dunphy

February 19, 2013

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) released a report on a Nov. 1 fatality involving a contract driller with six years of experience (click here to see the full report). The 30-year-0ld driller was apparently attempting to thread a new drill steel manually, with the use of a strap and the drill head rotating, when he became entangled in the rotating steel.

 MSHA suggests the following best practices:

  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures. Identify and control all hazards. Train all persons to recognize all potential hazards and understand safe job procedures to eliminate all hazards before beginning work.
  • Ensure that the manufacturer’s procedures are followed when adding drill steels.
  • Ensure that emergency stop/shut-off switches, panic bars, dead-man devices, tethers, slap bars, rope switches, two-handed controls, spring-loaded controls are functional and in easily accessible locations.
  • Never manually thread drill steels when the drill head is rotating.
  • Drills should be fitted with automated systems for changing rods, or two persons should be present when rods are changed manually.
  • Do not wear loose-fitting clothing when working around drilling machinery. Avoid using a strap or other objects that could become entangled with or thrown from moving or rotating parts.
  • Monitor personnel routinely to ensure procedures are followed.


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