MSHA hazard alert: think quicksand

MSHA has issued a hazard alert warning of the dasngers when loading hoppers.

A front end loader operator was loading sand into the feed hopper.  He dismounted from the cab to retrieve two 55-gallon drum lids from the hopper, when he fell into the hopper and became engulfed by the sand.

front end loader operator became engulfed by the sand when loading sand into the feed hopper

Mine operators should equip feed hoppers with mechanical devices, grates/grizzlies or other effective means of handling material so that persons are not required to work where they are exposed to entrapment by sliding material, MSHA advises.

A short video, Quicksand, illustrates engulfment hazards.

MSHA standards 30 CFR §§56/57.16002(b) address bins, hoppers, silos, tanks and surge piles.  They state, “Where persons are required to move around or over any facility listed in this standard, suitable walkways or passageways shall be provided.”  30 CFR §§ 56/57.16002(c) require a safety belt or harness equipped with a lifeline suitably fastened.

Mine operators must always comply with the following

Mine operators should equip feed hoppers with grates or grizzlies

additional standards:

  • 30 CFR §§56/57.9301 – Dump site restraints
  • 30 CFR §§56/57.9304 – Unstable ground
  • 30 CFR §§56/57.11001 – Safe access
  • 30 CFR §§56/57.15005 – Safety belts and lines.

Best practice

  • Signs that warn, “CONFINED SPACE, ENGULFMENT HAZARD”, should be posted at all access points to hoppers, bins, silos, tanks and surge piles
  • Mobile or stationary platforms from which miners may work should be made available at locations where there is risk of being engulfed by sliding material
  • Assign a safety harness and lanyard to each individual miner who may work at an elevated height, or who may work on or near locations where an engulfment hazard exists
  • Construct stable, durable and secure anchor points to which miners can attach a fall protection lanyard at all locations where an engulfment hazard exists, and inspect these anchor points frequently
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