MSHA Chief Outlines Priorities to Congress

Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) Administrator David Zatezalo outlined priorities for the agency during a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections on Feb. 6.


David Zatezalo

Zatezalo addressed inconsistencies among MSHA inspectors when questioned by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Zatezalo said that MSHA is working to establish a single, agency-wide opinion when it comes to regulating operations among its 15 different districts.

The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) said it was encouraged by Zatezalo’s remarks about the importance of the aggregates-dominated, metal/non-metal segment of the industry.

“Historically, and as a former miner myself, MSHA has been typically viewed as a coal-centric organization. As we move forward, it has to be viewed as more of a mining-centric organization,” Zatezalo said.

Foxx and Zatezalo agreed that the agency needs to be able to handle the modern demographics of the industry. There are nearly 10 times as many metal/nonmetal operations than coal mines in the country, and 240,000 metal/nonmetal employees versus 83,000 coal miners.

MSHA Reports First Fatality of the Year

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) reported the first fatality of 2018 in the metal/nonmetal sector.

On Jan. 25, an articulated haul truck at a CRH sand and gravel plant in Iowa traveled through a berm, dropping approximately 20 ft. into a ice-covered pond, submerging the truck’s cab.

Rescuers utilized divers and tow trucks to pull the submerged truck from the pond and recover the victim.

MSHA posted a public notice to employees of the mine, employees of the mining company(s), employees of independent contractors with any connection to the mine, persons with any connection to the mine, and any person with information regarding the cause or contributing factors of this accident.

Please provide any information to Thaddeus J. Sichmeller, lead accident investigator, 218-720-5448.

MSHA Issues Serious Accident Alert for Crushers

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued a Serious Accident Alert for crushers.

On Oct. 22, 2017, a miner was working on clearing a jammed primary crusher. While using an air hammer to break up a large rock, another rock became dislodged and slid down, pinning the miner’s feet. Nearly an hour later, the victim was freed and taken to a hospital.

MSHA recommends the following Best Practices to avoid this type of accident:

  • Establish policies and follow manufacturer’s recommended procedures for conducting specific tasks on crushers. Implement measures to ensure miners are positioned safely and protected from hazards while performing task.
  • Task train persons to recognize all potential hazardous conditions and to understand safe job procedures for elimination of the hazards before beginning work.
  • Do not work below unsecured material.
  • Remove excess material by mechanical means where possible before the cause of the blockage can be dealt.
  • When removal of material by hand is necessary, the crusher and associated plant must be stopped and isolated.
  • Manual removal should only be carried out by suitably trained and competent persons.

MSHA Issues Serious Accident Alert for Fly Rock

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued a Serious Accident Alert for fly rock.

On Dec. 11, 2017, miners were preparing for a shot, and were positioned about 130 yd. from the face. One miner was standing between a pickup truck and an excavator; the other two were under the excavator. The shot detonated prematurely. The miners were struck with debris resulting in injuries.

MSHA recommends the following best practices to avoid accidents like these:

  • Consider mine specific conditions and rock strata when designing blasts to prevent fly rock.
  • Closely follow mine policies and procedures through all phases of the blasting operation.
  • Schedule blasting between shifts or on off-shifts.
  • Utilize suitable blast shelters for all persons at mine site during blasting.
  • Use restricted areas for non-enclosed blasting operations.
  • Keep coworkers away from the blaster.
  • Always consider past “fly rock” when determining your blast area. The area should be minimum 1.5 times the furthest distance that any previous fly rock has traveled.