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MSHA issues alert on battery-powered devices

Photo: Mine Safety and Health Administration

Arlington, VA — A recent explosion and fire resulting from an object striking a lithium battery-powered device has prompted the Mine Safety and Health Administration to issue a safety alert.

The agency describes the incident, in which a rock fell about 6 feet onto a continuous personal dust monitor resting on top of a continuous mining machine. Miners first spotted flames coming from the device before an explosion resulted in larger flames until extinguishing.

“Many devices such as the CPDM, hand-held radios, cellphones and cap lamps are powered by lithium batteries,” MSHA says. “When designed, manufactured, used and maintained properly, lithium and other battery sources for these hand-held devices are a safe power source.”

MSHA offers best practices related to the safe use of lithium and other batteries:

  • Ensure miners appropriately use lithium battery-powered devices and protect them from unusual and excessive heat, stress, impacts, and other hazards.
  • Conduct workplace examinations and eliminate hazardous conditions.
  • Control roofs, faces and ribs near where people work or travel.
  • Educate miners on the proper use and care of lithium battery-powered equipment, including wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.
  • Follow manufacturers’ instructions for storage, use, charging and maintenance of lithium batteries.
  • Keep fire extinguishing equipment readily available.

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