Mining Inspectors Zero In On Workplace Safety

 

Mining inspectors in Ontario are focusing in on diesel emissions and other hazards that could affect air quality during a blitz in underground mines.
 
As part of the province’s Safe at Work Ontario strategy, which was unveiled four and a half years ago, Ministry of Labor inspectors are making sure that employers are complying with recent changes to emission requirements for diesel-powered equipment under the Regulations for Mines and Mining Plants.
 
Officials believe the changes improve protection for workers from the potentially harmful effects of diesel emissions by:
 
     Setting a lower allowed limit of carbon exposure for workers and
     Requiring equipment be tested under consistent conditions
 
The changes went into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.
 
 
Illness and Death Result from Poor Air Quality
 
Poor air quality in underground mines can lead to occupational illness and death of workers. In particular, workers are at risk in the event they are exposed to carbon monoxide in diesel exhaust.
 
Underground mines can have poor air quality when:
 
     There are too many "particulate particles" (a mixture of various chemical solids and gasses including carbon and nitrous oxide) and other airborne substances such as dust in the air and/or when
     Fumes emitted by diesel-powered equipment are over the prescribed limits
 
To protect workers, the new amendments require employers to:
 
     Perform routine testing to determine the carbon monoxide content of exhaust from diesel-powered equipment under consistent conditions
     Develop and implement testing measures and procedures for diesel-powered equipment, in consultation with the mine's Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) or health and safety representative
     Provide test results, as required, to the JHSC or health and safety representative
     Investigate overexposure by workers to diesel emissions and take remedial action, if possible, to prevent future incidents
 
The mining regulations are part of Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
 
 
Inspectors Focus in on Diesel Equipment
 
Inspectors will target underground mines that use diesel equipment, including:
 
     Mines with large fleets of diesel equipment operating in the underground environment
     Recently reopened or new mines operating diesel equipment
     Mines where previous ventilation concerns were observed, and
     Mines with a poor health and safety compliance history
 
Inspectors will check on two types of equipment:
 
     Diesel equipment used for underground transportation of workers and materials and blasting of rock and
     Ventilation systems used to deliver fresh air to underground mines
 
Lastly, mining inspectors will zero in on the top priorities:
 
Committee Consultation: Inspectors will check that employers have developed and implemented testing measures and procedures for each piece of diesel equipment, in consultation with the JHSC or health and safety representative.
 
Diesel Equipment: Inspectors will check that equipment used for underground transportation of workers and materials is being regularly tested, as required.
 
Workplace Air Sampling: Inspectors will check that employers are regularly testing the air in underground mines to ensure exposure to toxic airborne substances do not exceed the prescribed limits.
 
 
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.
 
©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

Mine Safety Overview

The one year anniversary of the West Virginia Upper Big Branch mine tragedy of April 5, 2010, where 29 miners lost their lives, is an appropriate time for a review of mine safety. While mines are much safer today than they were 25, 50 or 100 years ago, they are still a dangerous business. The 29 miners who died in the Upper Big Branch explosion was the worst mining tragedy in the United States since 1970 when 38 miners did in an explosion at the Finley Coal Co. in Kentucky. 
 
 
The workers compensation claims arising from injuries, illnesses and death among miners are often substantial in size. This results in miners having some of the highest rates for workers compensation premiums. Mine safety improvements, with the resulting reduction in the number of injuries and the seriousness of the injuries that do occur, is the best way for mine companies to reduce their cost of workers compensation. (WCxKit)
 
 
Mine safety is so important that the United Stated Department of Labor has a division dedicated to the safe operation of mines, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). MSHA was created in 1977 by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act. Like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that regulates most industries, MSHA is responsible for the regulation of mines and mine operators. The goals of MSHA include the prevention or reduction of injuries, illnesses and death in mines and due to working in mines. 
 
 
The primary goals of MHSA are to improve the safety and health of all miners. To accomplish this, MHSA strives:
 
1.      to develop safety rules for mines
 
2.      to develop health rules for mines
 
3.      to enforce the safety and health rules
 
4.      to provide technical assistance to mines
 
5.      to provide educational assistance to mines
 
6.      to assist mine operators with compliance to the rules and regulations
 
 
There are two divisions of MHSA, The Coal Mine Safety and Health and The Metal and Non-metal Mine Safety and Health. The Coal Mine Safety and Health division oversees inspections, investigations and training for coal mines, while The Metal and Non-metal Mine Safety and Health divisions provides the same functions for all mines other than coal mines.
 
 
While there are many hazards that miners must contend with, the most dangerous hazards include:
 
1.      Explosions – Coal dust can cause violent explosions. Methane gas is another common source of explosions in mines
 
2.      Hazardous gases – Various gases that can develop in the mining process can cause asphyxiation
 
3.      High temperatures & humidity can cause heat stroke
 
4.      Dusts – Miners who are exposed to dust develop lung problems like pneumoconiosis and silicosis
 
5.      Hearing Loss – The mining equipment used to cut through coal and other hard surfaces can create a high decibel level which is amplified by the enclosed area
 
6.      Cave-ins – The tunnels and caverns dug underneath the ground can collapse due to the weight of materials above
 
 
The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act combined the prior regulations that were in force prior to 1977. it requires the same degree of safety in non-coal mines as were previously in place for coal mines, and it also streamlined the oversight process for mines. Among the provisions in the Mine Act were:
 
1.      all underground mines to be inspected by MSHA at least four times a year
 
2.      all surface mines to be inspected by MSHA at least twice a year
 
3.      strengthening of the existing mine safety laws
 
4.      the issuance of regulations to control safety
 
5.      civil penalties for mine companies that violated the MSHA rules and regulations
 
6.      education and training of miners and management in mine safety
 
 
There are numerous ways the mine operators and the miners can work together to reduce the risk of injuries and illnesses from working in mines. Some of the more successful approaches to reducing the risk of injuries and illnesses include:
 
1.      requiring all new miners to have basic safety and health training before they ever enter a mine
 
2.      refresher training each year for all miners
 
3.      specific task training for miners who change jobs within the mine
 
4.      motivation of miners to perform their job duties in a safe manner
 
5.      training – providing skills and knowledge – on how to safely perform their jobs
 
6.      mine rescue training
 
 
In addition to the above approaches to reducing risk in mines, there are numerous training materials available from the MSHA on various subjects including:
 
1.      ventilation procedures for underground mines
 
2.      how to prevent the ignition or explosion of gases or dust
 
3.      how to prevent fire
 
4.      how to prevent flooding
 
5.      how to prevent suffocation due to oxygen deficient air
 
6.      how to prevent hydrogen sulfide gas
 
7.      conveyor belt fire prevention
 
8.      high pressure hosing
 
9.      proper maintenance and use of mine elevators (WCxKit)
 
 
Mine safety not only reduces the cost of workers compensation, it reduces the cost of repairs to both the equipment and the mine. Mine safety is a win-win situation for both the employees and the mine operators.
 
 
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.
 
 
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Mine Safety Administration Wants Changes in Exam Requirements

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is proposing to revise its requirements for pre-shift, supplemental, on-shift, and weekly examinations.
The proposed rule on Examinations of Work Areas in Underground Coal Mines for Violations of Mandatory Health or Safety Standards would require mine operators to take responsibility for conducting complete workplace examinations. They would also have oversight for correcting violations and quarterly reviews with mine examiners of all citations and orders issued in areas where these four categories of examinations are required. (WCxKit)
Examinations are the first line of defense for miners working in underground coal mines,” said MSHA Administrator Joseph Main. “Mine operators must take ownership for their workers’ health and safety by conducting basic workplace examinations to assure they are in compliance with health and safety standards.”
He stated that at the beginning of a shift, miners are particularly vulnerable to hazards and conditions that may have developed during the prior shift. “The examinations are intended to protect them,” Main adds.
After reviewing accident investigation reports and enforcement data, MSHA concluded that the agency needed to propose changes to existing examination rules. MSHA determined that the same types of violations of mandatory health or safety standards are found by its inspectors in underground coal mines every year. (WCxKit)
Last year, MSHA inspectors issued 82,126 citations and orders at underground coal mines,” added Main. “These violations should be found and fixed by mine operators, not left for MSHA to find.”


Author Robert Elliott
, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information.  Contact:  Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

  

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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact
Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

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