a surge pile shown in an MSHA photo

MSHA Renews Campaign for Surge Pile Safety

Surge piles of mined material at coal mines have inherent hazards for personnel and equipment working on or around them, MSHA reminded its stakeholders in a notice announcing the resumption of a safety campaign about the piles. The agency did this in 2000 and 2004, and there has not been a fatality associated with a surge pile since 1999, but MSHA listed four reasons for going back to it:

  • Like all job classifications, dozer operating can be rotational.
  • Periodically, all dozer operators should be re-alerted to the inherent hazards of working on or around surge piles.
  • Many new dozer operators have been hired since 2004.
  • Many dozer operators were working in other job classifications in 2004 and may not be aware of this information package.

MSHA's page of information about pile hazards and good practices includes instructional videos, posters, three Fatalgrams about fatalities that occurred in 1995-1999, miners' tips, and a link to a 1993 MSHA report, "Material Instability Hazards in Mine-Processing Operations." The report explains why the material being moved becomes unstable and why hidden voids can develop.

The agency asked stakeholders to share the information and discuss it at safety meetings.

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