The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued a Serious Accident Alert after a miner was overcome by gas inundation. On June 28, 2017, hazardous material spilled from the top of a tanker truck around a damaged agitator seal at a cement plant. The miner stopped the spill at the tanker bay control station and attempted to clean up the spill by washing it into a sump. He noticed a very strong chemical odor and his vision became blurry. The miner attempted to leave the area and ran a short distance before losing consciousness.
MSHA issued the following Best Practices to help prevent this type of accident:
- Process equipment should be regularly inspected for proper operation. Damaged equipment should be removed from service. Displays, controls, and emergency stops should be readily accessible and installed away from potential hazard zones.
- Fixed gas detectors with alarms should be installed in areas where hazardous gases or vapors can accumulate. Miners handling hazardous chemicals should be equipped with personal gas detectors. Calibrate and maintain gas detection equipment per manufacturer recommendations.
- Avoid working in areas where hazardous concentrations of gases and vapors can accumulate. Minimize or eliminate hazards through engineering and administrative controls. Ventilation systems should be properly designed, installed, and maintained to remove hazardous contaminants from the work area.
- Evaluate the hazards associated with work processes, and develop procedures and training to protect miners from those hazards. Provide warning signs that display the nature of the hazard(s) and the required personal protective equipment.
- Train miners on emergency response procedures.