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MSHA issues safety alert on drill entanglements

Mining Drill Rig

Photo: Darryl Peroni/iStockphoto

Arlington, VA – The Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a drill entanglement safety alert to call attention to safe practices and the importance of equipment maintenance.

The alert, released Aug. 10, states that at least seven drill workers have died annually in metal and non-metal mines since 2002. In one case, a 53-year-old mine worker with 32 years of experience died after his clothes became entangled in a jackleg drill.

MSHA cites mine drill operators’ working conditions as part of the risk: Many work alone and, at times, in locations away from other miners.

MSHA recommends the following measures for drillers:

  • Check out the drill and surrounding work area.
  • Make sure all tripping hazards are eliminated.
  • Do not wear clothing that is loose-fitting or bulky.
  • Avoid using objects that could be entangled in and thrown by moving or rotating parts.
  • Stay clear of augers and drill systems in motion.
  • Never manually thread the drill steel while the drill head rotates.
  • Drill from a position with good footing and control access.
  • Ensure machine controls and safety devices operate effectively.
  • Never nullify or bypass machine control safety equipment.
  • Place emergency shutdown devices, including panic bars, slap bars, rope switches, and two-handed controls in easily accessible areas.

“Failing to follow safe drilling practices has tragic consequences as we’ve sadly seen,” MSHA administrator Joseph A. Main said in a press release. “Paying attention to safe job procedures, staying clear of rotating drill and augers, complying with drilling safety standards and following best practices will reduce the risk of death or injury.”

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