The 3 Areas Where Technology May Improve Safety and Avoid Future Mining Fatalities

October 9, 2018 Karli Langner

Whether we intend for it to happen or not, our colleagues turn in to our “work family -” a term that many of us use to describe the bond we create with the people that we generally spend more time around than our actual families. That being said, when there’s an injury–or worse, a fatality–on a jobsite, it hits hard. It’s personal, and it’s an experience each of us hope to never have.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is working hard to improve safety in operations by advocating for improvements in three areas:

  • Large vehicles hitting smaller vehicles
  • Seat belt usage
  • Conveyor belt safety

There is Always Safety in Valor

For an industry that give so much back to the community, the safety of the individuals that contribute should be of high importance. In its proposed rulemaking, Safety Improvement Technologies for Mobile Equipment at Surface Mines, and for Belt Conveyors at Surface and Underground Mines, MSHA is seeking feedback on how technology may improve safety in these areas. They are asking for ideas and comments on how various technologies might create safer mine sites. They hope to collect all responses by December 24.

Given that mobile equipment accounted for almost 40 percent of mining fatalities and more than 30 percent of injuries in 2017, the agency is seeking feedback on the disadvantages and advantages of collision warning systems and collision avoidance systems.

MSHA is also considering engineering controls such as high-visibility seatbelts, warning devices that will remind the operator to wear their seatbelt, and others of the like. Since 2007, there have been 38 fatal accidents that occurred due to the driver not wearing their seatbelt. MSHA did a study on these accidents and determined that 35 of these fatalities could have been avoided had a seatbelt been properly worn.

In regards to belt conveyors, MSHA is studying items such as guards, number and location of crossovers, and lockout/tagout procedures for ways to improve safety.

Better Safe Than Sorry

The cost of determining which technologies yield safer operations may be not be inexpensive, but keeping workers safe? That’s priceless. That’s another child/spouse/mother/father/and “work family” member that won’t have to suffer the loss of a loved one due to an accident that happened on the job. The path may not be easy, but if it can help the industry avoid future fatalities then it is a path well worth taking.

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