Recently, there have been a multitude of articles about people injuring themselves while playing the new Pokemon-Go AP on their phones and not paying attention to conditions around them.

Now, if you have been paying attention to news in our MNM mining community, you will have also noticed that in the Metal-NonMetal industry we have had FIVE (5) fatal accidents related to highwalls & dump sites in the past 5 months alone!

Unfortunately, no one has created an AP yet to help miners monitor highwall, drill sites or dumping locations so we “gotta watch’em all!”

What exactly does this mean? MSHA regulations require examination of highwalls;

  • prior to work commencing
  • after blasting and
  • as conditions warrant during the work shift.

Dumping locations shall be inspected;

  • prior to work commencing and
  • as conditions warrant.

…..and remember, drilling areas carry an obligation for you to inspect prior to work commencing. Since they are generally associated with highwall areas, they should be receiving examinations after blasting and as conditions warrant during the work shift as well.

Every operation shall have a safe method of inspecting these areas and a process in place to observe, report and take action on any hazardous conditions found during the inspections prior to personnel working in the area.

Suggestions for Examination

For highwalls, be mindful of:

  • Changes in conditions
  • New piles of materials at the toe
  • Loose material on the highwall
  • Water flow (in colder climates consider freeze & thaw cycles)
  • Geological conditions
  • Blasting damage
  • Examine the top area of highwalls for unusually large cracks, stress fractures. Is loose, unconsolidated material stripped back from the edge?
  • Others?

For dumpsites:

  • Are their cracks, stress fractures, uneven ground?
  • Are berms, bumper blocks or impeding devices of proper size for the equipment?
  • Are spotters provided?
  • If dumping from stockpiles or highwalls, do you maintain no less than one full load between the edge and the dump truck at all times?
  • What is the condition of the material on the dump –wet/slippery/dry/dusty?
  • Others?

So when it comes to working around highwalls and dumpsites

please remember you “gotta watch’em all!”


Although we have endeavored to accurately reflect the position of the Department, the positions presented in the above information do not constitute the official position of the Department except when a statute or a regulation is quoted. It is solely intended to be an aid in addressing the situations discussed.