Media coverage of mining accidents, injuries, and deaths bring mining hazards to our attention. Safety discipline including training, inspections, and following safety practices at mines, quarries, and extraction pits can prevent these tragedies.
Blasting is often used to open new areas of a mine or quarry. Know the blasting safety procedures, including alarms and signals, for your worksite. Follow all instructions from the blaster-in-charge. Prepare for fly-rock—debris that can travel very quickly inside and outside the blast area. Wear your hard hat and know where you can take safe shelter. Never enter the blast area until you hear the all-clear signal.
Hazardous atmospheres including low oxygen, explosive dusts, flammable gases, and toxics can build up during mining operations. Ensure that there is enough ventilation to remove hazardous atmospheres from the work zone. Monitor work areas for adequate oxygen and the unsafe buildup of gases and/or chemicals. Evaluate work areas to see if they are confined spaces or permit-required confined spaces and follow proper entry, work, and rescue procedures if needed. Wear a respirator to protect yourself from dusts, fumes, and gases that can irritate your lungs.
Mobile equipment on mining sites can be extremely large. It is very difficult for drivers to see pedestrians. Wear high visibility clothing. Stay out of vehicle pathways. Make eye contact with a driver before you move near their vehicle. Don’t walk behind a moving vehicle. Make sure that vehicle drivers have communication means such as radios and the vehicles have backup alarms.
Mining work can be hard physical labor. Prepare for heat and cold stress depending on the season. Wear layers of clothing that you can use to control your temperature. Stay hydrated. Fatigue and sleep deprivation can impair your judgment, causing you to make mistakes or react poorly in emergency situations. Get enough sleep and eat healthy to maintain your fitness.
While much mining work is mechanized now, there are still physical material handling and job tasks. Use mechanical lift devices or team lifts whenever possible. Lift properly with a straight back and power the lift with your legs. Keep your work close to your body, between shoulder and waist height. Rotate your tasks throughout the day. Pace yourself and take microbreaks throughout your shift so you don’t get fatigued and strain/sprain a muscle.
Wear your required personal protective equipment (PPE). Ear plugs/muffs protect your hearing in noisy mining operations. Wear work gloves to protect your hands. Coveralls protect your skin. Wear a hardhat and protective boots to prevent heavy materials and equipment from injuring your head and/or feet. Safety glasses protect your eyes from dust and flying debris.
Inspecting workshops, equipment, vehicles, and the mining area identifies hazards before they cause injuries and accidents. Conduct your inspections based on risk. High-risk areas and tools may need inspection every shift or every day; low-risk areas, less often. Use a checklist to organize your inspection and document the results and follow-up actions. If a serious risk or hazard is identified, communicate this to management and workers immediately, and stop work until it is made safe.