Federal agencies Slips, trips and falls Fall prevention Mining, oil and gas Injury prevention Mining_Oil_Gas

As slip and fall fatalities continue to occur, MSHA focuses on fall protection

Photo: davidmariuz/iStockphoto

Arlington, VA — Fatalities resulting from a slip and fall account for 12% of total miner deaths this year to date – more than twice the percentage reported in 2021, a recent analysis by the Mine Safety and Health Administration shows.

Additionally, MSHA has reported 315 days lost to nonfatal injuries related to slips and falls this year. Between January 2021 and this past September, the agency issued 150 imminent danger orders related to fall hazards, citing the following as the most common violations:

  • Truck drivers climbing on top of their vehicles
  • Mechanics working on equipment
  • Plant workers climbing on equipment

During an Oct. 20 conference call for agency stakeholders, Ben Gandy, an engineer in MSHA’s Office of Technical Support, discussed five elements to risk and hazard identification and mitigation to help mine operators prevent falls on the job:
Understanding regulations and standards: “MSHA frequently receives fall protection requirement questions from contractors who work at sites regulated by MSHA and OSHA. Complying with OSHA regulations contained in title 29 CFR will ensure you meet MSHA requirements. Company policies should also be developed to enhance regulatory requirements.”
Hazard identification: “A well-conceived fall protection program begins with identification of fall hazards in the workplace. Evaluate tasks that are likely to cause harm or injury, and evaluate the risk associated with each hazard.”
Hazard mitigation: “After hazards are identified, mine operators should specify how to deal with each hazard by outlining what fall protection measures are to be used, how they are to be used, and who is responsible for overall supervision and training. Ideally, it is best to eliminate the hazard. When this is not possible, other measures, such as the wearing of fall protection equipment, enhance worker safety.”
Product selection: “Mine operators must know the types of fall protection products that are available and decide which would be the most suitable for the workplace.”
Training: “It is essential that persons are properly trained to recognize potential fall hazards; evaluate and control each hazard; learn examination and maintenance procedures; select appropriate products for the task; and properly wear fall protection equipment, including size, fit and adjustment.”

As winter weather approaches, Gandy also reminded stakeholders to be especially mindful of snow, ice, mud and rain on stairs, ladders and walking surfaces, and while getting on and off equipment.

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