MSHA highwall fatality report

On July 25, 2016, a 59 year old excavator operator, with 17 years of experience, was killed at a limestone quarry, the MSHA reports.

Rockfall
The cab of the victim’s excavator was struck by falling material from the highwall

Prior to the accident, the victim was loading shot rock into haul trucks. While waiting for the haul trucks to return, the victim was separating out over sized rocks when the cab of his excavator was struck by falling material from the highwall.

Best Practices

  • Operate excavators with the cab perpendicular to, and swinging away from, the highwall
  • Examine highwalls from as many perspectives as possible (bottom, sides, and top/crest) while maintaining the safety of the examiner(s). Look for signs of cracking or other geologic discontinuities
  • Maintain access to the top of highwalls so that thorough examinations can be conducted
  • Perform supplemental examinations of highwalls, banks, benches, and sloping terrain in the working area during and following inclement weather
  • Immediately remove all personnel exposed to hazardous ground conditions, barricade, and/or post signs to prevent entry, and promptly correct unsafe conditions
  • Use mining methods that ensure highwall stability and safe working conditions
  • Look, Listen and Evaluate your highwall and pit conditions daily, especially after each rain, freeze, or thaw
  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures for working near highwalls.  Be your own examiner and find hazards before they find you
  • Refer to PIB P10-09 ‘Safety Precautions for Operating Rubber Tired and Track-Mounted Excavators’ for additional information regarding hazards related to operating excavators at surface mines.

This is the 10th fatal reported in calendar year 2016 in metal and nonmetal mining. As of this date in 2015, there were 12 fatalities reported in metal and nonmetal mining.

This is the 1st fatality classified as fall of highwall in 2016.

There were no fall of highwall accident classification fatalities in the same period in 2015.

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