MSHA launches winter alert campaign, offers safety tips

By |  December 5, 2017

The Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) launched its annual winter alert campaign in an effort to remind miners and mine operators of the increased hazards that colder weather creates at surface and underground coal mines.

According to MSHA, the winter alert campaign, which runs each year through March, emphasizes increased vigilance and adherence to safety principles during the winter months. During the campaign, MSHA personnel regularly visit mines around the country to heighten awareness of the hazards and distribute safety materials on best practices and healthy working conditions.

When the barometric pressure drops during colder weather, methane can migrate more easily into the mine atmosphere and increase the risk of an explosion, MSHA says. Dry winter air allows coal dust to become suspended in the mine atmosphere, which also increases the risk of an explosion.

“The cold winter months bring an increased risk of underground coal mine explosions, as well as an increase in hazards associated with ice and snow that collect at surface facilities and preparation plants,” says David Zatezalo, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety. “During the winter alert campaign, MSHA personnel will work to ensure miners and mine operators have information to maintain safe and healthful working conditions.”

MSHA also offered safety tips for miners during the winter months. The agency says that during an underground mine examination, employees should check for methane, know a mine’s ventilation plan and maintain ventilation controls, and continually apply rock dust to prevent an explosion.

During a surface operation examination, MSHA says employees should check highways and benches for stability, examine vehicles for exhaust leaks and consider limiting engine idle time, remove snow and ice on roadways, and apply sand on roadways to maintain traction.

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