MSHA recently issued a safety alert regarding safe blasting procedures following serious injuries suffered by miners as a result of a premature blast. Despite being positioned a safe distance from the blast area, the shot detonated early without warning, and several miners were impacted by debris. While there were no fatalities, the miners suffered injuries of varying severity. MSHA issued several best practice recommendations when preparing for and carrying out a blast on surface operations as a result of this incident. Considering mine-specific conditions when preparing for a blast will better enable the detonation team to protect themselves and miners than having a general and all-encompassing blasting plan. Further, planning a blast either between or after shift will lessen the chances that miners will be impacted by debris in case of an unplanned event during detonation. MSHA further recommends that the blaster be isolated from other members of the blasting team. Finally, MSHA recommends that Blast Area should as a minimum be one and a half times the furthest distance that any previous fly rock has traveled.
Blasting is a serious and potentially dangerous practice on a mine site due to the use of explosives, and it is difficult to determine the specific trajectory of fly rock during a blast. Blasting experts familiar with a mine site can be in the best position to protect the blast team and miners from hazard if the proper precautions are undertaken in the preparation phase. The MSHA best practices are guidelines blasters can look to in order to reduce the chance of injury from fly rock.