Get free industry opioid training

The opioid crisis has been making headlines for years in the mainstream media. Less known, however, is its having within the aggregates industry. Research shows that extraction workers – which includes stone, sand and gravel workers – is the leading occupation of those who have died from prescription opioids, according to data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). To learn more about the issue, read my article in Rock Products.

The topic of opioids is a difficult one to discuss with your employees, but help is available. Click here to access a free 45-minute training module, instructor’s guide, and participant handout designed for the stone, sand and gravel industry. It can be used in annual MSHA refresher training and meets the requirements of the health training section. Small producers may prefer a narrated version of the training, which can be found here. The training is compiled by Cora R. Roelofs, ScD, a research faculty member at the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace.

Fatality Alert: Truck driver killed while attempting to adjust brakes with engine running

According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), on Sept. 16, 2020, a truck driver at a New Jersey sand and gravel operation attempted to adjust the brakes on his tri-axle truck while the engine was running, the automatic transmission was in drive, and the parking brake was not set. The truck moved forward and fatally injured the victim. The fatality marks the 17th of 2020 and is classified as Powered Haulage.

MSHA offers the following best practices to prevent these types of accidents: 

  • Before exiting, place the transmission in park, set the parking brake, turn off the engine, and activate the hazard warning lights.
  • Block equipment against motion and place high visibility cones or other flagging or signage to caution oncoming traffic before working on equipment.
  • Maintain equipment braking systems and repair and adjustment as necessary.
  • Conduct pre-operational examinations using qualified personnel to identify and repair defects that may affect the safe operation of equipment before it is placed into service.
  • Train miners on site-specific hazards.

Fatality Alert: Material Shifts on Miner Clearing Crusher

On August 18, 2020, a miner was killed while attempting to clear a material blockage. According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the miner entered the cone crusher to begin work when the material shifted and engulfed him. He was extracted from the crusher and taken to a hospital, where he died the next day. This fatality, the 13th of the year, was classified as “Fall of Material.”

MSHA suggests the following best practices:

  • Properly design chutes and crushers to prevent blockages. Install a heavy screen (grizzly) to control the size of material and prevent clogging.
  • Equip chutes with mechanical devices such as vibrating shakers or air cannons to loosen blockages, or provide other effective means of handling material, so miners are not exposed to entrapment hazards by falling or sliding material.
  • Establish and discuss policies and procedures for safely clearing crushers.
  • Train miners to recognize and safely remove all potential hazards before beginning work and when clearing blocked crushers.

Fatality Alert: Dragline falls into pond

On June 13, 2020, a dragline was found submerged in 25 feet of water where a miner had been using it to remove material from a pond. Divers attempted to locate the dragline operator, and after two days the dragline was extricated from the pond. The victim was recovered from the engine compartment behind the operator’s cab. The fatality, the ninth in 2020, was the second classified as “Machinery” related.

MSHA offers the following best practices to prevent these types of accidents: 

  • Maintain control of operating mobile equipment.
  • Keep all exits clear in cabs, including alternate and emergency exits, and make sure the doors open freely before beginning work.
  • Retrofit older models of equipment with current automatic braking systems.
  • Ensure all controls and brakes are set to the appropriate position for the task.

Dolese team helps to mask the masses

As the coronavirus swept through the United States, workers at Dolese Bros. Co. stepped forward to help friends, family, and co-workers by sewing masks. The effort was spearheaded by Julie Tucker and Donna Smith, who both work in the company’s accounting department.

Members of the accounting department at Dolese Bros. Co. worked together to sew hundreds of masks to protect friends, family, and co-workers.

“We kind of felt a loss of control,” Tucker says as the group saw the rapid spread of COVID-19 through New York City. As she wondered what she could do, Smith offered to show her how to sew. Smith found a pattern while Tucker pulled out a sewing machine that had been stashed in the back of her closet for nearly 15 years.

Other members of the department pitched in by helping to cut, pin, and press fabric. “The majority of us here have had our hands in it at some point,” Tucker says. “It just kind of spiraled.” Within weeks, the group had sewn hundreds of masks that were shared with people throughout the community.

While the shutdown of local stores such as Hobby Lobby made it more difficult for the volunteers to find supplies, they received numerous fabric donations.

MSHA cancels Program Policy Letter on escapeways

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced the cancellation of a proposed Program Policy Letter on escapeways and refuges in underground metal and non-metal mines.

The proposed Program Policy Letter was published in the Federal Register on July 29, 2019, (84 FR 36623) for public comment.  In October 2019, MSHA held a public stakeholder meeting to give the public additional opportunity to provide feedback.  After reviewing the comments, MSHA has determined that the proposed clarification is not needed.

The Notice of Cancellation can be viewed on May 26, 2020, at the Office of the Federal Register’s Public Inspection Desk.

Fatality Alert: May fatality highlights the importance of lock-out/tag-out

The seventh metal/non-metal fatality of 2020 involved a “Material Handling” incident. Photo courtesy of MSHA.

On May 2, 2020, a miner entered a dredged sand and gravel bin through a lower access hatch to clear an obstruction. The miner was clearing the blockage with a bar when the material inside the bin fell and engulfed him. The accident marks the seventh fatality of the year and the second classified as material handling.

MSHA offers the following best practices to prevent these types of accidents: 

  1. Lock-out, tag-out. Never enter a bin until the supply and discharge equipment is locked out.
  2. Train miners to recognize and safely remove all potential hazards before beginning work and when clearing blocked hoppers.
  3. Equip bins with mechanical devices such as vibrating shakers or air cannons to loosen blockages, or provide other effective means of handling material so miners are not exposed to entrapment hazards by falling or sliding material.
  4. Follow manufacturer recommendations for clearing out blockages.
  5. Establish and discuss policies and procedures for safely clearing bins.
  6. Install a heavy screen (grizzly) to control the size of the material and prevent clogging.

Foundation established by former Ash Grove Cement president funds relief efforts

The Sunderland Foundation gave The Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO) a $100,000 gift, the Ozarks Independent reports. In turn, the CFO has passed over $1 million in COVID-19 grants.

In its latest round of donations includes grants to the following:

  • Boys & Girls Club of Springfield for food, supplies and virtual programming opportunities.
  • O-STEAM to support the use of 3D printers to make face shields for emergency workers.
  • People Helping People for food pantry expenses.
  • Shepherd’s Nook Food Pantry for food pantry expenses.
  • Ministerial Alliance of the Hermann Area to assist low-income families with COVID-19 emergency expenses.
  • Mountain Grove Love Food Center for food distribution.
  • NAMI for virtual support-group expenses and mental health responders.

The Sutherland Foundation was established in 1945 by Lester T. Sunderland, who served as the president of Ash Grove Cement Co. for 33 years.

CEMEX delivers soap and water mixture via mixer trucks

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, CEMEX has dispatched its mixer trucks filled with soap and water mixtures to sanitize streets and public health areas around the world.

Projects include:

  • A hospital emergency room entrance in the Dominican Republic,
  • The streets of Puerto Rico,
  • Areas around Panama health centers,
  • Colombia’s largest central market (1.9 million square feet), and
  • Hospital entrances and the university campus in Assiut, Egypt.

The company also donated nearly 900 pounds of clementines grown at a reclaimed quarry site in Alicante Spain to a shelter in that city.

Glenn O. Hawbaker works with YMCA to ensure children don’t go hungry

Glenn O. Hawbaker, Inc. teamed up with the YMCA of Centre County to ensure that no child goes hungry during these unprecedented times. The YMCA branch gathered resources to distribute food at drive-through sites across the county and reports it is providing food to more than 2,000 kids and families in need at 32 sites each day.

GOH worked with Valley Trailers, which donated the trailer used to transport food from the Food Bank in Williamsport, Pa., to the Moshannon Valley YMCA in Philipsburg.