Minerals, coal, oil and natural gas production make up a significant portion of the New Mexico economy. Those in the mining and fracking industries should understand the necessary steps required to ensure the safety of workers.
Educate workers on escape routes
Every mining site should have an explicit escape plan should an accident occur. Employees who work underground or aboveground should be trained in how and where to evacuate safely in the event of a catastrophe. They should be encouraged to leave the site immediately and go directly to a designated assembly area even if doing so puts production at risk.
Getting to the surface as quickly as possible becomes the focus in an underground coal mining accident, such as an explosion, gas leak or fire. Mines should also be equipped with multiple designated oxygen self-rescuer stations.
Encourage the use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
Workers in a mine should be required to wear the appropriate PPE. Depending on their specific job duties, this should include gloves, safety glasses, harnesses, lanyards, and helmets. Employers must provide PPE that meets current safety standards. Insufficient or damaged PPE should be reported to management or the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
Promote team-oriented environments
Employers must ensure the safety of the crew by knowing the exact locations of all team members at all times. Workers must be informed about areas where potential hazards exist and be trained to follow the instructions of the supervisor to prevent catastrophic accidents.
Qualifications and licensing
Employees should not be required to perform tasks for which they are not appropriately licensed or trained.
Employers may not retaliate against employees who call the MSHA to report violations
Crew members who notice dangerous conditions aboveground or underground have the right to report the hazards to the Mine Safety and Health Administration that operates a toll-free emergency line 24 hours a day. All reports are supposed to be anonymous, and any retaliatory measures against them are illegal and should be brought to the attention of a lawyer who can advise the employee about potential recourse.
In the end, taking a team approach to safety provides important protection to workers and their families.