MSHA water safety warning

Since 2005, twenty-four miners have died at metal and nonmetal mines and sites while working on or near water, MSHA says in a safety alert about water hazards.

Water-Related Fatalities Pic 2  “Whether working on a dredge, driving a haul truck, or operating a bulldozer, miners are at risk of drowning or entrapment when they work near water.  Protective equipment like a personal flotation device adds safety and security to miners working on a dredge.

“Likewise, a thorough pre-operational inspection of a haul truck ensures that the driver discovers defects and corrects them before driving, and a workplace examination shows a bulldozer operator where unstable ground conditions are located.

“The positive steps that operators, contractors and miners take to avoid unsafe acts and conditions combine to protect individuals against drowning and entrapment at MNM operations.

“Failure to be attentive to water hazards can have deadly results.  This month’s Safety Alert details circumstances and activities that can be dangerous around water.

“Examples are heavy equipment traveling and operating near water, undercut soil banks at water’s edge, swift Water-Related Fatalities Pic 3water currents, inadequate berms, and variable water depths.

“Following precautions to control safety in the environment and equipment when working on the surface helps to protect miners because they cannot see what is beneath the water.

“Begin following “Best Practices” by first conducting a thorough workplace exam, especially looking for loose material along haul roads and travel areas near water.  Berms must be continuous and at least mid-axle high.

“Mobile equipment must never have defects that affect operational safety.  Work boats and dredges where miners work must have secure and stable handrails.

Water-Related Pic 1l“Miners must ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS wear a life vest, preferably auto-inflatable, for the entire time they work on water.  Areas where miners travel must be free of tripping hazards, so make sure all work areas are clean and orderly.

“Finally, post warning signs at the entrances to all work zones where water is present.

The topic for this Safety Alert was suggested by the State of Oklahoma Department of Mines.   If you have a suggestion for a future Alert, please submit it to

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