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Analysis of fatalities during maintenance and repair operations in the U.S.mining sector.

Reardon LM; Heberger JR; Dempsey PG
IIE Trans Occup Ergon Hum Factors 2014 May; 2(1):27-38
OCCUPATIONAL APPLICATIONS This analysis identified patterns in fatalities during maintenance and repair operations in mining. U.S. mining maintenance and repair fatal reports (2002-2011) were reviewed and used to develop a classification scheme. Fatalities were classified using this scheme, and proximal causes, tasks performed, and contributing factors were identified, as well as differences in patterns between coal and metal/nonmetal mines. Based on the results, possible interventions to reduce fatality occurrences are discussed. Primary suggestions include ensuring that workers are knowledgeable about and understand the importance of following proper de-energizing and lock out/tag out procedures, particularly in coal mines where the proportion of electrical-related deaths is significantly higher than in metal/nonmetal mines, and proper blocking procedures. Effort should be made to ensure that safety equipment and personal protective equipment are available and used where needed, especially in metal/nonmetal mines where a greater chance exists for objects or miners to fall from heights. TECHNICAL ABSTRACT Background: Maintenance and repair work in mining is particularly hazardous and yet has received little focus in ergonomics research. Purpose: 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. Methods: 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. Results: 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. Conclusions: 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.
Mining-industry; Maintenance-workers; Miners; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Statistical-analysis; Mortality-data; Coal-mining; Nonmetal-mining; Metal-mining; Accident-analysis; Accident-statistics; Data-processing; Electrical-hazards; Fall-protection; Safety-equipment; Personal-protective-equipment; Occupational-hazards; Analytical-processes; Machine-operation
John R. Heberger, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Office of Mine Safety and Health Research, PO Box 18070, Pittsburgh, PA 15236, USA
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IIE Transactions on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division