A miner received severe head injuries while operating a locomotive underground – according to an alert issued by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). The miner hit his head on a low clearance ventilation bulkhead and was driven to a hospital by the operator where he was admitted to the intensive care unit.
MSHA has issued best practice guidelines following the incident.
- Underground roadway heights can change abruptly. Always face the direction of travel and exercise extreme caution in low clearance areas.
- Keep all body parts within the operator’s compartment while a vehicle is in motion. Stay below the highest part of a vehicle frame or windshield, especially when travelling through low clearance areas.
- Install reflective signs or warning lights well in advance of approaching low clesarance areas in order to alert miners of the upcoming danger of low clearance.
- Hang ventilation cloth twenty feet from the low clearance area in both direction at the same low clearance height. The cloth will require minimum maintenance and give an early alert to the change in entry height.
- Conduct proper travelway examinations to identify and mitigate the hazards presented by low clearances. Travel at safe speeds so that mobile equipment can be stopped within the limits of visibility.
- Coordinate with local emergency services and have a plan to transport injured persons to medical care providers.