7 Common Accidents in the Mining and Extraction Industry

The mining and extraction industry plays a critical role in sourcing essential raw materials for various industries, including construction, manufacturing, and energy production.

However, the nature of mining operations involves inherent risks and hazards that can lead to accidents, injuries, and fatalities. In this blog, we'll explore the seven most common accidents in the mining and extraction industry, along with proactive measures for prevention to ensure the safety and well-being of workers.

Cave-Ins and Roof Collapses

Cave-ins and roof collapses are among the most significant hazards in underground mining operations. These accidents occur when unsupported or unstable rock strata give way, trapping miners and causing injuries or fatalities.

Prevention:

  • Conduct thorough geological surveys and ground stability assessments before commencing mining operations.
  • Implement roof support systems, such as roof bolts, mesh, and strata reinforcement, to prevent cave-ins and collapses.
  • Provide training on safe mining practices, including recognizing signs of ground instability and responding to emergency situations.
  • Install monitoring systems to detect changes in ground conditions and predict potential collapse risks.
  • Enforce strict safety protocols and evacuation procedures in the event of a cave-in or roof collapse.

Explosions and Blasting Accidents

Explosives are commonly used in mining and extraction operations to break up rock formations and access mineral deposits. However, improper handling, storage, or detonation of explosives can lead to explosions, blasting accidents, and serious injuries.

Prevention:

  • Ensure that explosives handling and blasting operations are conducted by trained and licensed personnel following established safety procedures.
  • Implement blast design and engineering controls to minimize the risk of overpressure, flyrock, and ground vibration.
  • Conduct pre-blast safety inspections and risk assessments to identify potential hazards and mitigate risks.
  • Provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including blast-resistant clothing, helmets, and hearing protection, for workers in blasting areas.
  • Establish exclusion zones and warning systems to restrict access to blast sites and notify personnel of impending detonations.

Equipment Accidents and Machinery Failures

Mining and extraction operations rely on heavy machinery and equipment, such as excavators, haul trucks, and drills, which pose risks of accidents and injuries due to equipment malfunctions or operator errors.

Prevention:

  • Conduct regular inspections, maintenance, and servicing of mining equipment to ensure safe and reliable operation.
  • Provide training and certification for equipment operators on safe operating practices, maintenance procedures, and emergency shutdown protocols.
  • Implement engineering controls, such as proximity detection systems and collision avoidance technology, to prevent equipment-related accidents.
  • Enforce strict adherence to safety protocols, including seatbelt use, equipment inspections, and pre-operation checks.
  • Establish emergency response procedures and rescue plans in the event of equipment accidents or machinery failures.

Falls from Heights

Mining and extraction activities often involve working at elevated heights, such as on platforms, scaffolds, and equipment, increasing the risk of falls and fall-related injuries among workers.

Prevention:

  • Provide fall protection equipment, such as harnesses, lanyards, and safety nets, for workers operating at heights.
  • Install guardrails, handrails, and toe boards on elevated platforms and walkways to prevent falls.
  • Conduct regular inspections of elevated work areas and equipment access points to identify and address fall hazards.
  • Implement training programs on fall prevention, hazard recognition, and proper use of fall protection equipment for workers.
  • Enforce strict adherence to safety procedures and work-at-height protocols to minimize the risk of falls.

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Exposure to Harmful Substances

Mining and extraction activities may expose workers to harmful substances such as dust, gases, chemicals, and fumes, leading to respiratory problems, skin irritation, and long-term health effects.

Prevention:

  • Implement engineering controls, such as ventilation systems, dust suppression measures, and enclosed cabs on equipment, to reduce exposure to harmful substances.
  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE), including respirators, gloves, and protective clothing, for workers handling or working near hazardous materials.
  • Conduct air quality monitoring and exposure assessments to identify and mitigate risks of harmful substance exposure.
  • Provide training on safe handling, storage, and disposal of hazardous materials, as well as emergency response procedures for spills or releases.
  • Enforce strict hygiene practices, such as hand washing and decontamination procedures, to minimize the risk of exposure to harmful substances.

Heat Stress and Dehydration

Mining and extraction operations often take place in hot and humid environments, increasing the risk of heat stress, dehydration, and heat-related illnesses among workers.

Prevention:

  • Provide access to shade, rest breaks, and hydration stations for workers to cool down and rehydrate during hot weather conditions.
  • Implement heat stress management programs, including acclimatization periods, heat exposure limits, and monitoring of worker heat stress symptoms.
  • Provide training on recognizing the signs of heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke, and responding promptly to emergencies.
  • Encourage workers to wear lightweight, breathable clothing, and sunscreen to protect against sun exposure and heat-related skin damage.
  • Monitor weather conditions and adjust work schedules or activities accordingly to minimize heat-related risks.

Vehicle Collisions and Traffic Accidents

Mining and extraction sites often involve the use of heavy vehicles, trucks, and transport equipment for material handling, which can lead to collisions, rollovers, and traffic accidents.

Prevention:

  • Implement traffic management plans and designated traffic routes to separate vehicles, pedestrians, and mobile equipment.
  • Provide training and certification for vehicle operators on safe driving practices, vehicle inspections, and traffic rules.
  • Enforce speed limits, seatbelt use, and mobile phone restrictions for drivers operating vehicles on mining sites.
  • Install visibility aids, such as mirrors, cameras, and proximity sensors, to enhance visibility and reduce blind spots for vehicle operators.
  • Conduct regular inspections and maintenance checks of vehicles and mobile equipment to ensure roadworthiness and safety compliance.

Conclusion

Accidents in the mining and extraction industry can have serious consequences for workers, communities, and the environment. By identifying common risks and implementing proactive measures for prevention, mining companies and extraction operations can create a safer work environment and minimize the likelihood of accidents and injuries. Through comprehensive training, effective risk management practices, and a commitment to safety culture, the mining and extraction industry can uphold its responsibility to protect the well-being of workers and mitigate the inherent risks associated with mining operations.

If you're looking for a platform to collect more data to monitor near misses and incidents, Falcony has you covered. You can find more information on our website or test out our 30-day free trial: 

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By doing this, we are making work more meaningful for all parties involved.

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