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Deaths of lone workers prompt MSHA awareness effort

May 10, 2017

Arlington, VA – Mine Safety and Health Administration inspectors will conduct safety “walk and talks” with miners and mine operators during upcoming visits in response to a recent increase in mining deaths involving lone workers.

Five fatalities involving miners working alone occurred in the first three months of 2017, according to a May 2 press release. The “walk and talks” are designed to increase awareness of these deaths by highlighting the importance of accounting for all workers at all times and outlining best practices for working alone.

“Mine operators should have procedures in place so they can account for the whereabouts of every miner, at the beginning of the shift, while they are working and at the end of the shift,” MSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Patricia Silvey said in the release. “They should assess whether a particular task can be safely completed by a miner working alone, and always follow established communication practices.”

MSHA’s list of best practices includes:

  • Consider whether the miner has the proper training, knowledge, skills and equipment to complete the job safely and alone.
  • Inform a responsible person where the miner will be working and traveling in the mine.
  • Identify hazards before beginning any task.
  • Do not take shortcuts.
  • Follow customary check-in and check-out procedures.