Serious Accident Alert: Excavator struck by falling material

Kerry Clines

October 26, 2017

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued a Serious Accident Alert following an accident involving an excavator. On October 16, 2017, a miner was loading haul trucks with an excavator when the cab was struck by material falling from a 65-foot bank failure. Luckily, the miner was not injured.

Excavator in a quarry

MSHA offers the following Best Practices to help prevent this type of accident:

  • Operate excavators with the cab perpendicular to, and swinging away from, the highwall.
  • Train all persons to recognize adverse conditions and environmental factors that can decrease highwall stability and understand safe job procedures to eliminate all hazards before beginning work.
  • Examine highwalls and material piles from as many perspectives as possible (bottom, sides, and top/crest), while maintaining the safety of the examiner(s). Look for cracking, displacement, or other signs of distress.
  • Maintain safe access to the top of highwalls so that thorough examinations can be conducted. 


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  • Perform supplemental examinations of highwalls, banks, benches, and sloping terrain in the working area during and following inclement weather.
  • Immediately remove all personnel exposed to hazardous ground conditions, barricade and post signs to prevent entry, and promptly correct unsafe conditions.
  • Use mining methods that ensure highwall and bank stability and safe working conditions. Avoid undercutting and/or oversteepening of the highwall or bank slope. Mine only material that freely flows down.

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