MSHA Highlights Best Practices for Mine Drill Operators

Published August 17, 2016

Last week, MSHA issued a new safety alert for metal and nonmetal mines to help focus industry attention on safe drilling practices and the importance of keeping equipment well maintained. According to MSHA, at least seven workers have died in accidents involving drills in metal and nonmetal mines since 2002. Drill operators are exposed to rotating machinery that is difficult to guard and can entangle clothing and body parts, resulting in fatal or serious injuries. MSHA notes that these workers often work alone—sometimes in locations away and removed from other miners. The agency’s safety alert lists best practices to help protect miners from drill entanglement.

Before beginning drill operations, MSHA urges workers to examine the drill and surrounding work area and eliminate all tripping hazards. Further, workers should avoid wearing loose-fitting or bulky clothing when working around drilling machinery and stay clear of augers and drill stems in motion. Workers should drill from a position with good footing and access to the controls, and never manually thread the drill steel while the drill head is rotating.

For a full list of MSHA’s recommended best practices, see the safety alert (PDF).