MSHA Safety Alert: Operating Equipment Near Water

MSHA reported that from 2010 through 2023, there were 19 drowning accidents. Eleven of these fatal accidents occurred when mobile equipment, operating near water, became submerged. 

When working near water mine operators should:

  • Conduct workplace examinations and eliminate hazardous conditions.
  • Keep mobile equipment a safe distance from the water’s edge.
  • Ensure miners wear a seatbelt when operating mobile equipment.
  • Emergency underwater breathing devices are commercially available, and they come in all different shapes and sizes. If made available and miners are properly trained, these devices can potentially increase miners’ chances of survival if they fall into water.

MSHA recommends the following best practices to avoid this type of accident:

  • Provide emergency underwater breathing devices to miners with risk of falling into water.
  • Train miners in the use of underwater breathing devices in case of an emergency.
  • Keep water rescue equipment easily accessible.
  • To assist miners in exiting a submerged cab, develop an underwater emergency egress kit which may include a nose clip, mask, underwater breathing device, PFD, and glass breaking device.
  • Provide and ensure miners wear a Coast Guard approved Type I or Type V personal flotation device (PFD). 

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