Stop Slips and Falls


February 16, 2012

Train workers to use proper safety equipment and take proper preventive measures.

Compiled by Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-Chief


The accident: On June 30, 2000, a 33-year-old supervisor with two years of mining experience was fatally injured at a sand and gravel operation. He was adjusting the water feed into a log washer when he lost his balance and fell into the operating equipment.

The bottom line: The accident occurred because the equipment was not de-energized before the maintenance work was performed, and a safe means of access was not provided to the water pipe.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) identified 20 topics that account for 75 percent of the fatalities that occurred in the mining industry between 2000 and 2008. It is developing modules for each of these topics through its Safety Targets Program. Beginning in this issue, Aggregates Manager will provide information on the 10 areas of focus within metal/non-metal mines, as well as best practices.

Slips and falls are one of the leading causes of accidents in the mining industry. In MSHA’s nine-year window, they accounted for 73 fatalities, with 52 related to the failure to properly tie-off or to tie-off in combination with other safety measures. In addition, there were 18,577 non-fatal days lost (NFDL) slip and fall accidents in the mining industry — an average of more than 2,100 accidents of this nature each year.

Fall hazards include not properly tying-off or improper use of fall protection equipment; lack of barriers, guardrails, and handrails; unsecured, inadequate, or obstructed travel ways and walk ways; and improper use of ladders, among others. Consider the following safety tips to help equipment operators, mechanics, and repair crews work safely.

Best practices

• Always wear appropriate protective equipment, and avoid jewelry or loose clothing that can become caught in moving parts.

• Always follow safety rules and procedures.

• Always examine boarding ladders, steps, and guardrails during pre-operational checks.

• Always make sure equipment ladders, steps, and platforms are securely anchored and well maintained. They should be well lit and free of slipping hazards.

• Always report defective equipment so it can be removed from service and repaired.

• Always maintain three points of contact when climbing or descending a ladder.

• Never mount or dismount a moving machine.

• Never carry personal items or supplies when climbing or descending a ladder. Use a rope to lift or lower them.

Information from this Safety Watch is from an actual accident and is provided by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. It is meant for general information purposes only.

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