Throughout the mining industry, it’s pretty easy to recognize the hazards that are present in a number of forms. Whether it’s blasting, heavy equipment, cave-ins, or other employees –heightened awareness is necessary to prevent accidents.
One such area of particular focus is equipment operation. According to the latest data from MSHA for 2016, there have been 13 deaths in metal and nonmetal surface mines from January to September. Of those 13 reported fatalities, 8 involved a worker operating a piece of equipment. The risk associated with operating equipment is increased in mining because of the unique landscape that extraction creates. Even a surface mine is full of embankments, pits that can engulf, and steep highwalls. Therefore, an equipment operator must remain fully engaged and aware of the task being performed to safely traverse through the hazards.
Now, it’s not really a leap to say that cell phones are a huge distraction. Users trying to multi-task with their phones can be a huge problem on the road, in public, and at work. On the roads alone, cell phone use is blamed for around 6,000 auto fatalities per year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The reaction time of people on their phones while driving or operating mobile equipment can be worse than those under the influence of alcohol! Whether the distraction is texting, looking at social media, or talking, the phone divides the attention of the user and increases the risk of getting into an accident.
Looking at the real danger that cell phone use poses, companies often create cell phone policies that restrict the use of phones while performing tasks. However, merely a ring or vibration of a phone in the pocket is often a distraction. If the employee picks up the phone to check, that quick second away from the task could result in property damage, injury to another miner, or a personal injury.
To help avoid the possibility of an accident, MSHA recommends some best practices:
- Do not operate equipment while using a phone.
- Store the phone in a location that a ring or vibration will not cause a distraction.
- Let all phone calls go to voicemail until safe to respond, after the task is finished and in a designated safe area.
- Never read or send text messages while operating machinery.
- If you’re around a flammable liquid, keep the phone away and not in use.
- If you’re in a blasting area, cell phones should be turned off at a specified distance – check the postings.
- Cell phone operation should be discussed in the site specific hazard training before beginning work.
No phone call or text message is worth a life and no social media post has to be checked right away. Even if we have developed quite the fondness for our phones, the increased danger is never worth the risk. While operating equipment or doing any other task at the mine, distraction is simply not an option.
For the best surface miner training, 360training.com now offers updated surface miner training in compliance with MSHA Part 46. It can be taken online at your own pace. Our miner training includes topics such as:
- Hazard Awareness
- Operating Machinery
- Emergency Procedures
- Physical Hazards Working Near Water, Chemicals, and in or around Confined Spaces
- And more!
We offer both new miner training and the annual refresher required by MSHA Part 46. Upon completion, learners will receive a certificate of training, a MSHA-compliant document comparable to MSHA’s 5000-23 form. As a miner, it is imperative to stay up to date with training and constantly aware of the unique hazards that come with working in this exciting industry.