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MSHA - metal/nonmetal mine fatality

Mar, 02 2012


(Alabama)  --  On February 14, 2012, a 40 year-old mine owner with 8 years of experience was killed at a shale operation. The victim was operating an excavator with a rock breaker attachment. He was breaking and mining material from a near vertical wall when the face fell onto the cab of the excavator, crushing him.

Best Practices

  • Operate excavators with the cab and tracks perpendicular to, and away from, the highwall.
  • Bench or slope the material to maintain stability and to safely accommodate the type of equipment used.
  • Do not undercut material on the face of a slope, bank, or highwall.
  • Examine highwalls, slopes, and banks from as many perspectives as possible (bottom, sides, and top/crest) while maintaining the safety of the examiner(s). Look for signs of cracking, bulging, sliding, toppling or other signs of instability. Record the type and location of hazardous conditions.
  • Use auxiliary lighting during non-daylight hours to conduct highwall examinations and to illuminate active work areas.
  • Perform supplemental examinations of highwalls, banks, benches, and sloping terrain in the working area.
  • Immediately remove all personnel exposed to hazardous ground conditions and promptly correct the unsafe conditions. When the conditions can not be corrected, barricade and post signs to prevent entry.
  • Remove loose or overhanging material from the face. Correct hazardous conditions by working from a safe location.


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