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.

Fatality Alert: Miner falls into portable loadout bin

The first metal/non-metal fatality of 2020 involved a “Fall of Person” incident. Photo courtesy of MSHA.

A miner fell into a portable loadout bin on Jan. 8, 2020, and died at the scene, according to a Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) fatality alert. It was the first fatality of 2020 and is classified as a “Fall of Person” incident.

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

  1. Check handrails and gates. Ensure handrails and gates are substantially constructed, properly secured, and free of defects.
  2. Install mechanical flow-enhancing devices so workers do not have to enter a bin to start or maintain material flow.
  3. Don’t stand on material stored in bins. Material stored in a bin can bridge over the hopper outlet, creating a hidden void below the material surface.
  4. Lock-out, tag-out. Do not enter a bin until the supply and discharge equipment is locked out.
  5. Wear a safety belt or harness secured with a lanyard to an adequate anchor point before entering a bin. Station a second person near the anchor point to make sure there’s no slack in the fall protection system.
  6. Train all miners to recognize fall hazards and properly use fall protection.
  7. Provide safe access to all work places, and discuss and establish safe work procedures.

Additional Information: 

This is the first fatality reported in 2020, and the first fatality classified as “Fall of Person.”