Mining Publication: Analysis of Fatalities During Maintenance and Repair Operations in the U.S. Mining Sector
Original creation date: April 2014
Authors: L Reardon, J Heberger, PG Dempsey
Maintenance and repair work in mining is particularly hazardous and yet has received little focus in ergonomics research.
In this article, an attempt has been made to determine if patterns can be identified to categorize maintenance and repair fatalities in mining, to compare occurrence of fatalities between coal and metal/nonmetal sectors, and to use this information to identify safety deficiencies and associated proposed remedial measures.
A classification scheme was developed to identify patterns in fatalities, including proximal causes, tasks, and contributing factors. This scheme was tested to ensure adequacy of the categories, and fatalities were categorized using the scheme. All testing and categorization were done by two of the authors to ensure reliability of the coding scheme.
Patterns were successfully identified to categorize the fatalities, and these patterns were different between coal and metal/nonmetal mines. Coal mines had a greater proportion of electrical-related fatalities, while more fatalities related to potential energy occurred at metal/nonmetal mines. Most of the fatalities were caused by the victim coming into contact with an object or machine or the victim falling from height, and they occurred most often while the victim was performing maintenance or repair on equipment, cleaning, or removing blockages. The most frequent factors contributing to these incidents were failure to properly de-energize or lock out/tag out equipment, violation of work procedures, missing or inadequate safety equipment, and failure to block equipment properly.
The classification approach used was successful in identifying hazard patterns during maintenance and repair fatalities in mining. These patterns identify areas to focus attention when developing interventions to prevent the occurrence of future fatalities.
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