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Rise in fatal falls spurs MSHA safety alert

Photo: Mine Safety and Health Administration

Washington — In response to a recent increase in fatal falls from height in the mining industry, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a fall protection safety alert.

Over the past decade, 28 mine workers have died after falling from height. Between 2018 and 2019, the percentage of mining facilities that experienced a fatal fall increased to 19 from 8.

The most common violations are truck drivers climbing on top of their vehicles, along with maintenance and quarry personnel climbing to or working without fall protection in high places. MSHA says that, between January 2019 and June 2020, it issued 92 imminent danger orders for people working at height without fall protection.


MSHA lists best practices for preventing fatal falls:

  • Design work areas and develop job tasks to reduce fall hazards.
  • Establish an effective fall prevention and protection program, and provide task- and site-specific hazard training.
  • Supply a fall protection harness and lanyard to each employee who might work at height or at a location unprotected by handrails.
  • Provide identifiable, secure anchor points to attach lanyards.
  • Enforce fall protection equipment use – as well as safe work-at-height policies and procedures – with employees.
  • Supply mobile or stationary platforms or scaffolding for projects that have fall hazards.
  • Provide safe truck tarping and bulk truck hatch access facilities.

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