Mine Safety: What you don’t know can hurt you.


Know the hazards.

Mine safety, what you don’t know can hurt you.  Almost every aspect of repair or servicing activity involves the potential for injury arising from the unexpected release of energy.  To avoid contacting unexpected release of energy a Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO) program is required under both Mine Safety Health Administration (MSHA) and Occupational Health Safety Administration (OSHA).  This article helps you identify potential sources of energy that need be controlled during servicing. For more information on LOTO programs go do: OSHA 29 CFR 1910.147  (https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/factsheet-lockout-tagout.pdf).  MSHA  30 CFR 56/57.12006, 56/57.12016, 56/57.12017, 56/57.14105 (www.msha.gov/Alerts/2016-01-Jan-hazard-alert-loto.pdf).

First step in any repair/servicing event is identifying the energy hazards.  After all you can’t protect yourself if you don’t know “what” is hazardous.  The” what” is energy, which includes electricity, pneumatic, hydraulic, mechanical, chemical, nuclear, thermal and gravity.  The unexpected release of any energy can have serious or disastrous results to anyone contacted by unexpected energy release(s).

Want some examples of sources of energy?  Well here are some that you may find helpful.

Capacitors (electrical). Springs (mechanical)l.  Elevated components (raised, suspended or unsecured equipment/parts). Rotating flywheels (machinery parts that rotate).  Hydraulic lift systems-oil or water (car lift used in auto shops, hydraulic systems controlling a dozer blade, skid steer bucket hydraulics, plumbing). Compressed air (paint sprayers, jack hammers, nailers, rock drills).  Steam (heating systems, gas/coal fired power plants).  This list provides some identifiers but is not exhaustive by any means.

Example one of a failed LOTO:

If there are moving parts or if something is held in position there is energy present.  Here is an example of an incident involving unidentified energy.  A repair technician is repairing hydraulic lines on a front-end loader.  The buck is lowered and the bottom of the bucket is flat on the ground.  Service tech proceeds to uncouple a hydraulic line on the front bucket assembly.  Upon release of the hydraulic line the bucket rotates rearward causing the loader to move striking the service tech.  Who thought a front end buck flat on the ground would move?  Therefore, what you don’t  know can  hurt you.  Solution: Chock the wheels to prevent movement of the equipment, from whatever cause.  (Author learned of this event at an industry safety association meeting, there is no citation to offer.)

Example two of a failed LOTO:

The second example.  A heavy material chute which is raised and lowered as needed to allow conveyance of material onto barges. The chute is in need of repair. The service contractor plans to replace several wire ropes controlling chute elevation.  To undertake this task contractor need raise the chute to loosen tension on the cables.  Several come-a- longs are hooked to lifting ears the chute owner had fabricated itself to raise the chute and release the wire rope tension. The chute is raised and the come-a -long’s hooked to the lifting ears.  The lifting ears fail and the chute drops which re-tension the wire ropes. Service contractor employee had placed himself between the wire ropes and chute to undertake the repair work.  What you don’t know can hurt you.  Solution: Block the chute in place so should the lifting devices or lifting ears fail or release the chute will not move. (https://arlweb.msha.gov/fatals/metal/2016/final-reports/final-m16-11.asp)

Mandatory in any service/maintenance work:  take a few minutes to examine the task and equipment involved.  Make sure personnel familiar with the equipment and task are involved/consulted in the pre-planning of the task.  A very important safety tool in such pre-repair planning is the use of a Job Safety Analysis (JSA).   JSA’s list each task/step in the repair, the hazards associated with each repair step and methods of eliminating those hazards.  To be thorough in preparing the JSA. Involve those familiar with the equipment and task. This simple step will help identify potential energy hazards and the proper method(s) of isolating the energy to avoid unexpected release of same.  Just takes a few minutes.

What you don’t know can hurt you. New Miner Safety Training