May 30, 2012 – On May 23, a 36-year-old foreman with about 9½ years of experience was killed at a sand and gravel operation. He was operating an excavator on a dike separating two ponds. The ground beneath the excavator tracks failed and the excavator toppled into one of the ponds. This is the seventh fatality reported in calendar year 2012 in the metal/nonmetal mining industries. As of this date in 2011, there were five fatalities reported in these industries. This is the first Machinery fatality in 2012. There was one Machinery fatality in the same period in 2011. MSHA recommends the following best practices:
- Examine work areas to identify all hazards and remediate before starting any work.
- Evaluate the stability of the ground (slopes and berms) prior to operating equipment near any drop off or edge.
- Always be attentive to changes in ground conditions and visibility when operating machinery.
- Perform the work at a safe distance away from the edge of a pond or where the stability of the ground may be unknown.
- If a potential hazard is present, use long reach equipment to limit exposure and maintain a safe distance away.
- Consider areas that have experienced previous slope failures to be unstable and do not approach until the area is evaluated for stability.
- Wear flotation devices where there is a danger of falling into water.
- Be alert to changes in ground conditions such as cracking, bulging, sloughing, undercutting, and erosion.