Miner safety and recognition

By |  December 5, 2016

As we head into the winter months, aggregate producers throughout most of North America must take special precautions to ensure the health and safety of their workers. With that in mind, the Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) issued its annual Winter Alert message. The agency reminds mine operators and miners to pay special attention to seasonal changes that may affect both surface and underground work environments.

“The risk of underground coal mine explosions increases every winter, as do hazards associated with ice and snow that collect at surface facilities and preparation plants,” says MSHA chief Joe Main. The agency cites limited visibility, slippery walkways, and freezing and thawing highwalls that may contribute to mishaps during the winter months.

A similar warning from the agency last year noted that potentially hazardous tasks at mines and quarries in the fall and winter include disassembling conveyors, accessing pumping stations, rebuilding crushers and screens, rigging equipment, towing equipment and winterizing sand washing facilities.

Throughout MSHA’s Winter Alert campaign, mine safety and health specialists will regularly visit operations around the country to heighten awareness to the changing conditions that take place during winter. And enforcement personnel are distributing materials that focus on best practices for performing miners’ jobs in cold weather.

Tribute to miners

The U.S. Congress has designated Dec. 6 as National Miners Day “to honor the contributions and sacrifices of miners, both past and present.” The date commemorates the worst industrial mine accident in American history when, in 1907, 362 miners died owing to a mine explosion in Monongah, West Virginia. Today, more than 350,000 miners extract dozens of diverse minerals from the earth, including coal, gold, copper, silver, granite, limestone, salt, sand and gravel.

Main says, “Each day, working with the mining community, we look for ways to make mining safer and healthier. Recognizing that we all still have more work to do – on this sixth anniversary of Miners Day – we can report we have made progress on mine safety and health since Congress dedicated that day in 2009.”

About the Author:

Darren Constantino is an editor of Pit & Quarry magazine. He can be reached at dconstantino@northcoastmedia.net.

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