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Miner deaths during longwall face recovery spur MSHA safety alert

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Photo: Mine Safety and Health Administration

Arlington, VA — The Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a safety alert in response to five fatal incidents that occurred when miners situated between a longwall face conveyor and coal face were struck by falling sections of the face or roof.

The incidents took place between September 1996 and November 2017. Workers were shoveling coal, installing supplemental roof or face support, or performing similar duties when the incidents occurred, the alert states.

MSHA offers five best practices for preventing longwall recovery incidents:

  • Inspect the roof, face and ribs from a safe and supported location during pre-shift examinations and during work, as conditions allow.
  • Correct roof, face or rib hazards before working or traveling in affected areas, including mechanically supporting the exposed longwall roof and face, using an appropriate bar to remove loose or unconsolidated material from a safe location below the support, and removing slip and trip hazards from the area.
  • Follow the parameters of roof control plans when working near the longwall face.
  • Train miners on longwall face hazard recognition and safe hazard abatement.
  • Before beginning work on the face conveyor, alert the headgate operator, de-energize the face conveyor and shield control units, and disconnect power at the control station. In addition, support the pan from coincidental movement, and refrain from re-energizing equipment until every person is in the clear and away from the face side of the face conveyor, or pan.

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