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Mine safety agency warns kids and adults about the dangers of trespassing

Photo: Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)

Arlington, VA — The Mine Safety and Health Administration is reminding the public that exploring mines – abandoned or active – can be deadly.

“For trespassers, hazards are not always apparent,” Stephen Gigliotti, chief of safety for mine safety and health enforcement at MSHA, writes in a recent blog post.

The agency says dozens of people are injured or killed annually while exploring or playing near mine sites such as quarries, tunnels and pits. Around 14,000 active mines and 500,000 abandoned mines are spread throughout the country.

Among the common hazards:

  • Quarries and pits filled with water can hide rock ledges, machinery and electrical currents. They also can be flanked by steep, slippery walls.
  • Mounds of loose material around quarries or mines can easily collapse on a biker or climber.
  • Vertical shafts might be hundreds of feet deep and be completely unprotected or hidden by vegetation.
  • Abandoned mine shafts can collapse unexpectedly.

“The men and women who work in our nation’s mines are trained to work safely and understand the risks and landscapes of the mines where they work,” Gigliotti writes. “At abandoned sites, only trained experts have the expertise and proper equipment to visit when necessary.”

MSHA provides further information and resources about hazards at abandoned mines through its Stay Out – Stay Alive campaign.

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