Coal Age

JUN 2018

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30 June 2018 powered haulage Safety Stats Point to Powered Haulage Problems Despite a significant decline in mining-related fatalities, some basic safety-related problems persist with powered haulage by steve fiscor, editor The U.S. has seen mining-related fatality rates decline to single digits. One would think the fatalities that do occur are freak accidents, but oftentimes, they are not. In many cases, had the miners simply fol- lowed procedure or used common sense, they would still be with us today. Why did they make those choices? How can equip- ment operators be convinced to fasten their seat belts? Why did they splice that conveyor without locking out the drive motors? These questions and many more haunt today's safety professionals. Recently, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) hosted a quarterly conference call for stakeholders regarding powered haulage. The agency has a new leader, David Z. Zatezalo, who hails from the mining side of the business, and during the call, he made it clear that he and the agency are looking at multiple ways to improve safety at the mine sites. The call was open to all industry stake- holders and MSHA was hoping to inform mine operators about some trends and possibly spur some dialogue. The discus- sion focused on three problem areas re- lated to powered haulage that resulted in fatalities or near misses, including large equipment running over small vehicles, seat belt usage and conveyor belt safety. MSHA collects information on acci- dents and categorizes them into 21 clas- sifications. Of those, powered haulage accounted for the largest share of fatali- ties. In 2017, powered haulage accounted for 50% of fatalities and, so far this year, it has accounted for 57% — four of seven fatalities. "Seeing these figures, it's easy to understand why we are making this a pri- ority," Zatezalo said. Those figures include coal mining operations and quarries, which are classified as metal/nonmetal (M/NM) mining operations. Large Vehicles Mishaps The M/NM side of the of the business had the lowest number of fatalities in 2017, and that's a great accomplishment, explained Larry Trainor, program manag- er for accident investigation for MSHA's Metal and Nonmetal Safety and Health Division. "During the first quarter of 2018, we have only had two fatalities, and that's another great accomplishment," Trainor said. "In the second half of 2017, however, we had a higher number of fatalities and many of them involved large equipment striking smaller vehicles." In October, a 340-ton haul truck ran over a passenger van carrying nine peo- ple. The driver of the van and the miner in the front seat were fatally injured. Of the remaining seven miners, one suffered a non-life-threatening injury. A safety co- ordinator had brought eight visitors on to the mine site. He parked near a haul truck. The truck started, made a U-turn and ran over the vehicle. MSHA's examination found that the haul truck driver did nothing wrong. He followed company procedures, honked his horn twice, checked his mirrors and the onboard camera system. If the truck would have had a collision avoidance sys- tem, this accident may have been avoided, Trainor explained. "It would have notified him that a vehicle was sitting in his blind spot," Trainor said. The driver of the van had more than 20 years of mining experience. He had eight people on their first trip to a mine site. He was distracted. "One of the visitors got out Fortunately no one was killed in this incident where a haul truck lurched forward and ran over a van.

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