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The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration announced it will begin focusing inspections and mine visits on lone miner situations after five of eight miner fatalities this year have involved miners working alone.
The agency announced the initiative, which kicked off Monday, during its quarterly training call Thursday.
MSHA provided several best practices for mine operators to keep miners working alone safe, including assessing tasks to make sure they can be safely completed alone; providing training focused on safely completing tasks alone; setting and communicating clear limits on what lone miners should and should not attempt to do; and training miners to conduct Stop, Look, Analyze, Manage, Remember, Identify, Share, Know — better known as SLAM RISK — assessments.
In addition, MSHA encouraged mine operators to know where miners are at all times, establish and follow routine communication procedures, account for lone miners at appropriate intervals and account for all miners at the end of each assignment or shift.
All three fatalities in metal and nonmetal mines in 2017 have involved lone miners, and two of the five fatal accidents at coal mines have involved miners working alone.
Unanswered questions still surround the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration’s new rule on workplace safety examinations for mines, including its uncertain future under President Donald Trump.