MSHA initiative emphasizes April safety

By |  March 29, 2016

msha-logoThe Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) unveiled a new initiative to curb mining deaths in one of the year’s deadliest months.

“Think, Plan Train… Before You Begin Work!” is an MSHA safety alert initiative aimed directly at the metal and nonmetal mining industries. According to MSHA, 50 miners in the metal and nonmetal mining industry have died since 2000 in workplace accidents in the month of April, which signals the beginning of the spring season and the startup of many mines idled during winter months.

“Oftentimes, mines resume operations with newly hired or newly assigned employees,” says Joe Main, assistant secretary of labor at MSHA, who adds that April is historically the second deadliest month in mining. “Some miners may be entirely new to the mining environment, and others may simply be performing unfamiliar tasks.”

The April safety initiative is part of MSHA’s overall fatality reduction plan, which includes targeted safety alerts that mine inspectors share with miners, training representatives, mine operators and industry stakeholders.

In August 2015, MSHA launched aggressive enforcement and outreach actions in response to the events of Aug. 3, 2015 – a particularly deadly day in mining – when three miners died in separate accidents at mines in North Dakota, Nevada and Virginia. According to MSHA, the campaign, along with the support of the mining industry, reduced fatalities to an all-time low of three in the seven months that followed.

“These kinds of actions demonstrate that mining deaths can be prevented,” Main says. “Our ‘Think, Plan Train… Before You Begin Work!’ alert will help make sure we all stay laser focused on preventing the deadly consequences that April has historically brought.”

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

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