May 31, 2016 – Each year, dozens of people are injured or killed while exploring or playing on active and abandoned mine property. Records show that about 30 members of the public lose their lives at mines each year; more than 60 percent due to drowning while swimming, diving, partying, boating or fishing in quarry lakes. Others are killed in motorcycle, ATV and SUV accidents, and others in falls from highwalls or down shafts. As many as four people have perished in a single event. The ages of victims range from two to 85 years old, but the greatest percentage are teenagers and those in their 20s.
The men and women of our nation's mines are trained to recognize and control mine hazards, but for trespassers, the hazards are not always obvious, or they are ignored. Water-filled quarries and pits may hide rock piles and ledges, old machinery and other hazards. The water can be deceptively deep or shallow and dangerously cold. Steep, slippery rock walls make exiting the water difficult. Hills of loose material can easily collapse on an unsuspecting biker or climber. Highwall perimeters may be near public roads and not fully bermed, or once sufficient berms may have eroded over time. Vertical shafts can be hundreds of feet deep and may be completely unprotected or hidden by vegetation. Mine tunnels can contain old equipment, be oxygen deficient or harbor toxic atmospheres.
As summer approaches, the Ohio Aggregates & Industrial Minerals Association and MSHA are issuing this alert to help focus industry and the public’s attention on “Stay Out – Stay Alive” efforts to prevent trespasser fatalities on mine properties. We encourage mine operators at active mines to assess the hazards at their sites, construct or repair fences, gates and berms, post additional signage, publish or broadcast public service announcements in the local media, or participate in local news television or radio talk shows to discuss the hazards. All miners can warn their family, friends and neighbors, especially young persons, to “Stay Out and Stay Alive” through word of mouth and social media.
Here is a link to the Dangers at Active and Abandoned Mine Sites! Alert recently published on MSHA’s website: Dangers Exist at Active and Abandoned Mine Sites! – Alert. The Spanish language version is available here: Dangers Exist at Active and Abandoned Mine Sites! – Alert (Spanish). These Alerts are available on MSHA’s Metal and Nonmetal Resource page under Monthly Fatality Prevention Initiatives, June 2016. Alerts published in previous months may also be accessed on this webpage.
MSHA plans again this month to continue walk and talks at mine sites and enlist the assistance of mines, miners and mining industry groups in the effort to convince potential trespassers and partiers to “Stay Out and Stay Alive.” Please help spread the word.