NSSGA on Preventing Falls from Heights

SOURCE: NSSGA | February 24, 2021

During the past two years, deaths from falls has increased from 8% to 19%, and 28 miners have died as a result of falls during the past 10 years. There has been an uptick in fatalities while miners are accessing and egressing from mobile equipment, specifically from the top of trucks and aerial lift baskets. Other causes of the fall of persons include performing maintenance on crushers, screens, conveyors and other fixed equipment without wearing proper fall protection.

MSHA also issued 92 imminent danger orders between January 2019 and June 2020 for climbing on top of vehicles or conducting maintenance without fall protection. This number only reflects the times an inspector saw a dangerous situation where someone was working from a height unprotected — just think how many times this happens in the field and isn’t recorded and/or corrected.

We strongly recommend operators consider these best practices:

  • Proactively enforce fall protection usage and safe work-at-height policies and procedures with all employees and contractors; make sure supervisors lead by example.
  • Establish procedures where fall hazard concerns are elevated and addressed; encourage miners to speak up about concerns or potential hazards.
  • Reduce hazards. Design work areas and develop job tasks to minimize fall hazards.
  • Have a program. Establish an effective fall prevention and protection program that prohibits working at unprotected locations and includes robust training.
  • Provide a fall protection harness and lanyard to each miner who may work at an elevated height or a location unprotected by handrails. Ensure their use.
  • Provide identifiable, secure anchor points to attach lanyards.
  • Provide mobile or stationary platforms or scaffolding at locations and on work projects where there is a risk of falling.
  • Provide safe truck tarping and bulk truck hatch access facilities.
  • Encourage and train miners to use three points of contact when accessing machines.
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