Confined space accidents prompt MSHA alert

By |  October 19, 2020

MSHA logo 600x400The Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) issued a safety alert regarding confined spaces.

According to MSHA, three miners were fatally injured between 2017 and this year after entering confined spaces to clear material and obstructions. The confined spaces included a sand and gravel bin, a sand-filled hopper and a cone crusher. All three miners were engulfed by falling material, MSHA says.

The agency promotes a number of best practices to avoid safety incidents. For example, MSHA says operators should identify and eliminate or control all hazards before miners begin work, as well as when clearing blocked material. Miners should be trained in these practices, the agency says.

In terms of lockout/tagout, miners should never enter a confined space until the supply and discharge equipment is locked out. Also, miners should never lock out using the start and stop controls. These do not disconnect power conductors, MSHA says.

Additionally, operators should assign a safety harness and lanyard to miners who may work at material supply and discharge areas – or any area where an engulfment hazard exists. Do not use lanyards that depend on free-fall speed to lock, MSHA adds.

Operators should also place warning signs where appropriate. Such warning signs at all access points to hoppers, bins and chutes could read: “Fall Protection Required Here” or “Confined Space – Engulfment Hazard.”

Dating back to 2015, there have been 11 similar accidents and 73 citations/orders issued under MSHA standards 30 CFR 56.16002 and 30 CFR 57.16002. These standards cover bins, hoppers, silos, tanks and surge piles.

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About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or

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