A fatality earlier this month involving a hydraulic breaker represents a sharp uptick in U.S. mining industry deaths caused by machine accidents, according to the Mine Safety and Health Admininstration (MSHA).

The 32-year-old general manager/owner and the excavator operator were in the process of positioning the excavator for a motor exchange when the hydraulic breaker attachment fell off the excavator and hit the victim.

The MSHA’s Fatality Report report on the July 17 incident notes that this is the firth machine accident death this year. Last year at this time, there was only one fatality in that classification. Overall mining fatality numbers remained unchanged, with 11 in the same time periods in 2018 and 2019.

The MSHA reminds mining managers of the following best practices:

  • Conduct adequate pre-operational checks and correct any defects affecting safety in a timely manner prior to operating mobile equipment.
  • Make sure machine implements are securely attached to prevent unintentional disconnection.
  • Stay clear of suspended loads and raised equipment.
  • Any repairs to equipment should be made to OEM specifications
  • Always position yourself in a safe location and away from potential “red-zone” areas.  Consult and follow the manufacturer’s recommended safe work procedures.
  • Train miners to recognize potential hazardous conditions and understand safe job procedures before beginning work.