The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) recently issued a statement outlining new threats found to be associated with mining and working around bodies of water.
MSHA reports that since 2004, there have been 17 water-related deaths that have occurred in metal and non-metal mines, prompting them to assess the danger of water in mining operations.
The alert states that the potential outcome of working around, over, or near water hazards may result in entrapment or drowning. The highest risks are associated with travel or equipment operation near a body of water, the weight and vibrations caused by large machinery, water banks being undercut, and the sloughing of the ground. Also included were precautions on the varying depth of water and swift currents.
Outlined in the alert was a mining best practices sheet, which included conducting daily examinations of the workplace and becoming familiar with all aspects of a body of water, such as its depth and subsurface conditions. Keeping equipment away from the edge of a water source at all times was also listed as very important.
In addition to personal flotation devices and rescue rings, employers should be sure that proper safety products are being used at all times as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These products may include safety glasses, work gloves, and hard hats.