During 2017, there have been multiple metal/non-metal fatalities involving mobile equipment. The most recent fatalgram posted on the MSHA website described an October 17, 2017 fatality involving an operator that was ejected from the cab of a bulldozer and subsequently run over. On October 31, 2017, a mine accident resulted in the death of two miners, including a safety supervisor with more than 25 years of mining experience. The supervisor was driving a van at the time it was run over by a 340 ton haul truck. There were seven other passengers in the van who suffered minor injuries. The occurrence of back to back mobile equipment fatalities in the metal/non-metal sector, one of which involving a veteran safety superintendent and a trainee, may result in enforcement emphasis not only on safety mobile equipment operation practice, but task training as well.
Historically, mobile equipment accidents have been a consistent factor behind metal/non-metal fatalities, and deficient task training has been targeted as a possible contributing factor in the rising number of mining related fatalities in recent years. Consequently, MSHA has been enforcing task training citations at a higher level in recent years. In June, 2017, MSHA issued a letter detailing how less experienced miners suffer injuries at a higher rate than more experienced miners, indicating a problem with sound task training. The recent metal/non-metal mobile equipment fatalities may result in a similar initiative being formalized by the agency. At the very least, mine operators should be prepared for stronger enforcement on task training and mobile equipment issues.