MSHA Offers Machine Guarding Guide

Improper guarding is one of the most commonly cited violations in the metal and nonmetal mining industry, according to the agency.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration introduced a new compliance assistance resource Oct. 4 to help mine operators and safety personnel address machine guarding violations, with the agency saying this is one of the most commonly cited violations in the metal and nonmetal mining industry.

"Guarding Machinery at Metal & Nonmetal Mines" is a sequel to a compliance guide for guarding conveyor belts published in 2010. MSHA’s announcement said during 2010, guarding violations peaked at 10,877 -- one of every seven violations cited involved improper guarding.

"The purpose of this new guide designed to improve mine safety is threefold: to improve the mining industry's understanding of good guarding principles; ensure the construction, installation, and maintenance of high-quality, effective guards; and improve compliance, inspection, and enforcement consistency," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joe Main.

The new guide is a PowerPoint presentation with many photographs. Available here, it has been reviewed by industry stakeholders, MSHA inspectors, and MSHA supervisors, according to the agency.

MSHA's release said the most recent mining fatality that involved improper guarding practices occurred in August 2011 at 4 J's Gravel Crushing Plant 2 in Renville County, Minn. A 24-year-old equipment operator died when he became entangled in a feed belt conveyor's head pulley components. MSHA determined mine managers failed to ensure moving machine parts were guarded.

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