Take Control: Prevent Serious Injuries and Fatalities

Disclaimer: This document is to be used as a general guide, and it is not intended as a sole source of information, nor is it intended to provide legal advice. Users are encouraged to seek technical advice from equipment manufacturers, qualified professionals familiar with individual sites, safety programs, tasks, and company policies and procedures. Anyone using this document does so at their own risk. NSSGA is not responsible for any acts or omissions taken by any party using this document for reference.

Download the Take Control Program Contents

Section 1: Purpose & Scope

1.1 Why SIFs?

The stone, sand, and gravel industry is committed to the prevention of all injuries. However, industry experience suggests that there is a need to establish specific focus on the prevention of the mechanisms that result in serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs), which are injuries that are life altering, life threatening, or result in a fatality. The stone, sand, and gravel industry has and continues to experience a steady decline in reportable injuries, but the decline in serious injuries and fatalities has not been as quick by comparison, and has plateaued in recent years.




Evidence shows that not all events have the potential to lead to a serious injury or fatality and the absence of reportable injuries does not indicate a company will not have an SIF event in the future. The strategy for reducing SIFs involves the identification of situations with a high potential to cause an SIF, identification of critical controls, monitoring of those controls, and review of SIF events for organizational learning and improvement. It is important to note that this process does not exclude existing injury prevention programs in the industry, but rather, provides increased clarity and focus on one part of injury management and prevention.


1.2 The Role of Management

Organizational leaders must be committed to putting safety first and leading efforts to ensure employees are provided with safe workplaces. To best understand how to improve systems, organizations must intentionally collaborate with and engage workers at every level. Employees are the greatest source of intelligence within an organization and leaders should recognize the importance of employee input and work to enhance their engagement.


This guidance document has been created to help workers and organizational leaders recognize situations with the potential to cause an SIF and take proactive steps to prevent them from occurring. Through committed leadership and engaged employees, implementation of this program can help raise awareness of situations with high SIF-potential and ensure critical controls are in place before work begins.


Leaders must be relentless in the pursuit of providing workers with safe workplaces. This guidance along with input from boots on the ground workers can help build and support a workplace focused on eliminating serious injuries and fatalities. 


1.3 How to Use the Take Control Program

This prevention guide is intended to increase awareness around situations and tasks with the potential to cause serious injuries and fatalities, identify such situations and tasks, and help guide decision-making around critical controls that should be in place prior to work beginning. This guide is not all inclusive and should be used in conjunction with individual company policies and procedures. Example checklists and plans are provided which can be used to supplement or update company written plans. 


Resources including videos, discussion questions, relevant Fatalgrams, and posters accompany this written guide and all are intended for training both new and experienced miners. Discussion and a high degree of participation from miners at all levels is strongly encouraged.  It is recommended that operators focus on one topic at a time with their teams and use the Take Control program resources to evaluate current company programs, policies and procedures and identify gaps. This program is intended to supplement existing programs, not replace them. 


Identify Situations with High SIF Potential


  1. Working at heights
  2. Confined space entry
  3. Working with electricity or stored energy
  4. Operating or working around mobile equipment
  5. Lifting and rigging
  6. Drilling and blasting
  7. Working around water
  8. Working around highwalls
  9. Working around moving machine parts
  10. Contractors


    1.3 graphic

    If an activity, task, or exposure involves one or more of these situations, then it should be considered to have a high SIF potential and critical controls must be identified and implemented.


    Identify Critical Controls 

    Critical controls are those controls that must be in place to prevent someone from being seriously or fatally injured. For example, a fall arrest system is a critical control for work being conducted at a height, and a completed confined space entry permit is a critical control when entering a confined space. The failure of a critical control could result in a serious injury or fatality. Critical controls are identified in this guide for each of the 10 high-SIF potential situations; however, because each task and operation is unique, there may be other controls that should be considered and implemented.  

    Section 2: Risk Assessment

    2.1 What is a Risk Assessment? 

    A risk assessment is a proven way to manage the many hazards associated with mining, characterize the risks they present, and put controls in place to lower these risks to acceptable levels. Typically risk acceptability is characterized by managing risk to as-low-as is reasonably achievable (ALARA) or as-low-as is reasonably practicable (ALARP). A risk assessment is a systematic process conducted by a competent person or persons who evaluate the task, identify potential hazards, analyze risk, control those risks, and document the assessment and corrective actions taken. A risk assessment may also be called a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) or Job Hazard Analysis (JHA).

    2.2 Why Conduct a Risk Assessment?

    Risk identification and minimization provides workers with a level of protection that goes beyond compliance. Risk assessments force workers to evaluate a task before starting work, which helps reduce serious injuries and fatalities because hazards identified beforehand can be removed or controls can be put in place to minimize risks. Miners themselves, who are most familiar with the risks because they are closest to them, must be involved in risk assessments because their expertise can help better control risks. Risk assessments address all types of work environments including large projects such as work zones, traffic patterns in facilities, construction and/or relocation of facilities, special projects, and more. Risk assessment programs are the backbone of successful safety processes.

    2.3 How to Conduct a Risk Assessment

    Risk assessments include hazard identification, recognition of who could be harmed and how, evaluation of risks, decision-making around controls and record keeping. There are many different styles of risk assessments (e.g., Job Safety Analysis or Job Hazard Analysis) and examples are provided in this program. 



    First, prior to a task being performed, hazards are identified and assessed for their level of risk. Next, the mine operator decides whether to eliminate, mitigate or tolerate these hazards. Typically, it is most effective to eliminate hazards early in the life of a mine or processing facility (i.e., during the planning stages), or when significant changes are being made to mine processes because these situations provide opportunities to eliminate hazards through design and engineering controls. Mitigation actions can take the form of equipment, tools, or other mechanisms to control hazards. If a hazard is tolerated, then administrative controls, specialized training, or recovery measures are used to minimize risk. As mitigation actions are taken, their effectiveness must be carefully monitored on a regularly scheduled basis and changes should be made as needed and documented. 

    Section 3: High SIF Potential Situations and Critical Controls

    3.1 Working at Heights


    Fall protection is defined as any means used to protect workers from fall hazards. Fall protection is essentially a system that protects workers who could lose their balance at any given height (four feet in General Industry) from falling, usually resulting in injuries. Fall protection involves the elimination of fall hazards, the prevention of falls, and the control of falls. 


    HIGH-RISK TASKS: The following are examples of situations when working at heights has a high SIF potential. This list is not exhaustive and critical controls should be implemented for all work conducted at heights. 

    • - Working on an elevated platform (e.g., scissor lift, manlift)
    • - Working at a height where there is no handrail or guardrail present
    • - Working at a height where fall arrest equipment is required


    –    Fall prevention devices (harness, positioning devices, anchor points, lanyards, connectors, etc.) are inspected for wear and tear before use.
    –    Scaffolding and elevated platforms are equipped with guardrails and toe-boards.
    –    Surface openings are barricaded, covered, or guarded. Caution tape is not a substitute for barricades. An exclusion zone is established beneath the work area.
    –    Ladders are set on a firm base, correctly angled (4:1 ratio) and tied off.
    –    100% tie off is used with full-body harness.
    –    Anchor points are strong enough (i.e., they can support at least 5,000 pounds per person attached).
    –    Anchor points are high enough so that a fall will clear any obstructions and limit free fall.
    –    A plan is in place to quickly rescue fallen or suspended employee(s). All employees are familiar with the plan and know where to access it.


    Discussion QuestionsPoster | Fatalgrams

    3.2 Confined Space Entry

    Confined space

    A confined space is defined as any space or structure which by design has limited or restricted means for entry or exit, is not intended for continuous occupancy by a person, but is large enough and configured so a person can enter the space and perform work. Facilities should be evaluated to identify all permit-required confined spaces. Supervisors must inform employees of confined spaces and their dangers; post warning signs; and shall take measures to prevent unauthorized entrants from entering permit-required spaces. If permit-required spaces exist, a supervisor must develop and implement a written confined space entry permit program. The written program must be available for inspection by employees and their authorized representatives.


    HIGH-RISK TASKS: The following are examples of situations involving confined spaces that have a high SIF potential. This list is not exhaustive and critical controls should be implemented for all confined space work.
    –    Maintenance work when in a permit required confined space, i.e., a confined space that has one or more of the following characteristics: Contains or has a potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere; contains a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant; has an internal configuration such that an entrant could be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor which slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section; or contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazard


    –    A “Confined Space Entry Permit” is fully completed, and the entry supervisor has signed the permit certifying the space is safe for work prior to anyone entering the Permit Required Confined Space. Key aspects of an entry permit include: job details outlined including purpose of entry, pre-entry meeting and review is completed, including training verification of all involved, authorized entrant(s) have been identified and entry supervisor has reviewed/signed off, authorized attendant understands job duties and is not engaged in any other work, atmospheric monitoring is conducted and level(s) at which entry may occur have been identified and verified, communication procedures, methods, and equipment are identified and followed, including the emergency communication system, area is appropriately prepared for entry (e.g., area is flagged, barricaded, lit, etc.), necessary PPE is checked for wear, tear, damage, etc. (e.g., hi-visibility clothing, hardhat, eye protection, safety boots, respiratory protection, hearing protection, fall protection, etc.) and is worn during entry.
    –    Rescue procedures are in place, which include entrants wearing a harness and having a lifeline or being tied off. 
    –    Rescue and retrieval equipment is readily available. 


    Discussion Questions | Poster | Fatalgrams

    3.3 Working with Electricity or Stored Energy


    Knowledge of equipment and machinery, how it works and what it does, is very important for a solid understanding and application of the Lockout Tagout (LOTO) policy. Every site should have equipment specific LOTO procedures, and only authorized employees that have had hands on training on a specific piece of equipment should be involved with the Lockout and Tagout process.


    HIGH-RISK TASKS: The following are examples of types of energy with a high SIF potential. This list is not exhaustive and critical controls should be implemented for all work requiring lockout/tagout or when working with stored energy.

    – Electrical energy: Maintenance on any equipment that is powered by electricity, batteries, or internal combustion engines
    – Stored energy: Maintenance of hydraulic and pneumatic equipment/implements (e.g., hydraulic arms)
    – Potential energy: Maintenance of something with the potential to move, shift, or rotate (e.g., equipment that has an eccentric shaft or is in an unstable position when not operating)
    – Gravitational energy: Work with a gravitational component (e.g., materials with potential for engulfment)



    –    Electrical energy sources are properly identified and locked and tagged out.
    –    Equipment adjacent to, directly above or below and equipment feeding or discharging from the equipment to be worked on is locked and tagged out.
    –    Equipment is tested to demonstrate that the proper equipment is locked out and re-energization cannot occur. Independent verification (i.e., verification by a supervisor or competent person) is preferred; if independent verification is unavailable, then a self-check is performed. 
    –    Company arc flash procedures are in place, understood and followed. 
    –    Stored pressure is bled off, drained, blanketed and/or isolated for lines carrying pressurized material.
    –    Prior to performing maintenance on a piece of stationary or mobile equipment, all components are secured from movement or activation and a check for zero energy is conducted.

    3.4 Operating or Working Around Mobile Equipment


    When the worksite involves moving traffic, safety awareness should be at its peak to protect everyone on site. Incidents involving mobile equipment are consistently one of the leading causes of SIFs in the aggregates industry. Changes or unusual conditions should be communicated to workers immediately and vehicles and pedestrians should be separated as much as possible. If equipment is defective or broken it should be fixed or replaced immediately.

    HIGH-RISK TASKS: The following are examples of situations when operating or working around mobile equipment that have a high SIF potential. This list is not exhaustive and critical controls should be implemented for all work involving operating or working around mobile equipment.
    – Operating mobile equipment: around pedestrians; when equipment interacts with other equipment (e.g., during loading/unloading of material); around hazardous areas (e.g., highwalls, water, dump points, or powerlines)
    – Working on foot around mobile equipment (including pickup trucks and light support vehicles)
    – Operating a pickup truck or light support vehicle around large equipment like haul trucks that have significant blind spots


    –    Seatbelts are worn every single time anyone operates or rides in any vehicle.
    –    Vehicle pedestrian segregation plans (see examples included in program) are implemented and posted/provided to non-employees who will interact with or work near mobile equipment.
    –    Practices are established and followed to increase employee visibility (e.g., high-visibility clothing/PPE is worn).
    –    Practices are established and followed to increase vehicle visibility (e.g., whip flags are installed on trucks and light support vehicles).
    –    There is adequate communication between equipment operators (e.g., three-part or repeat-back communication is used).
    –    Adequate signage and barriers are used onsite (e.g., barricades, flagging, berms).
    –    Materials are dumped at a safe distance back from edges and pushed with a dozer.
    –    People coming to pick up equipment or material stay in their vehicle.
    –    Equipment is operated free of distractions (see distractions audit included in program). 
    –    Vehicle safety features are working properly and routinely checked (e.g., lighting, cameras, backup sensors, mirror placement, etc.).
    –    Operators sound the horn before movement.
    –    Appropriate speed limits are set and followed.


    Discussion Questions | Poster | Fatalgrams

    3.5 Lifting and Rigging


    Suspended loads must always be treated with caution. Those involved in lifting operations must be properly trained and qualified in the operation of each specific lifting device that he/she may operate. This includes employees who are required to attach a load to a lifting device (crane, boom truck, overhead hoist, floor hoist, etc.). It is critical to remember that a successful lift begins before an operator gets in the cab – lifting capacities of both the lifting device itself and associated rigging must be taken into account. 


    HIGH-RISK TASKS: The following are examples of lifting and rigging situations with a high SIF potential. This list is not exhaustive and critical controls should be implemented for all lifting and rigging work.
    – Any lift requiring a loader or mobile, overhead, or truck cranes (e.g., lifting a crusher to platform during replacement/repair, unloading parts from delivery trucks)
    – Tandem lifts
    – Any item that needs to be rigged


    –    Only qualified or certified crane operators, riggers and signalmen with the required experience are involved in the lift. 
    –    All lifting devices and cranes are inspected prior to use.
    –    A lift plan is conducted if the lift exceeds 75% of the rated capacity at the configuration used, requires the use of more than one crane, involves the lifting of personnel in a platform or basket, or presents special hazards or circumstances.
    –    The weight of the load to be lifted is determined before selecting rigging equipment and rigging hardware.
    –    Non-conductive tag lines are used to guide loads.
    –    Proper clearance, to include crane’s full extension radius, is maintained when working near overhead power lines.
    –    Pick-up, lay-down and crane operating areas are barricaded and secure.
    –    There is proper space, ground conditions and outrigger deployment for mobile crane operations.
    –    No one climbs on or walks under suspended loads.
    –    One person is designated as the signaler; the crane operator only moves loads on signals from this signaler. 


    Discussion Questions | Poster | Fatalgrams

    3.6 Drilling and Blasting


    Blasting is an integral part of many surface mining operations and each step of the process from loading the explosive material to detonation has critical safety elements that must be taken into consideration. Each company with blasting operations should have a Blasting Program in place that includes proper training given to each involved employee. 


    HIGH-RISK TASKS: The following are examples of drilling and blasting situations with a high SIF potential. This list is not exhaustive and critical controls should be implemented for all drilling and blasting work.
    – Drilling and blasting near the edge of a highwall
    – Loading of explosive material
    – Loading of shot material
    – Detonation
    – Handling of misfires
    – Scaling of a highwall following a blast


    –    Manufacturers’ guidelines are followed for the storage, handling, transportation and use of explosive materials.
    –    Explosive storage areas are kept clean, dry, and orderly.
    –    Inventory of explosive materials is rotated, and oldest stock is used first.
    –    All locations where explosives are stored or used are properly ventilated before miners enter.
    –    Damaged or deteriorated explosive materials, including initiation (detonating) devices, boosters, dynamite and blasting agents are not used. The explosives manufacturer is contacted if damaged, deteriorated, or outdated explosives are discovered.
    –    Technology such as face profilers and borehole probes are used to obtain details about areas of weak burden and potential borehole deviation.
    –    There is adequate communication with the driller and understanding of the blast site’s geology.
    –    A drill pattern appropriate for the location has been developed and stemming depth and/or decking is adjusted to maintain adequate burden for the blast.
    –    Site-specific blast plans are reviewed and followed prior to loading any explosives. 
    –    Blast area is established, and all persons are removed from the area before the blast is fired.
    –    Access routes to blast area are guarded or barricaded to prevent people and vehicles from entering.
    –    No open flames, matches, or cigarettes are allowed within 50 feet of the blast site.
    –    Only the blast crew handles explosives, but anyone can stop the job. 
    –    Anyone entering the blast site must have steel toed shoes, safety glasses, hard hat, high visibility vest/shirt, vest or jacket, gloves, and a hazard briefing from the Blaster. 
    –    Before firing a blast, ample warning is given to allow all persons to be evacuated from the blast area. 
    –    Absolutely no access is permitted into the blast area between the time the warning signal is sounded, and all clear signal is given.  
    –    A post-blast inspection is conducted to be certain the blast area is safe before anyone re-enters.


    Discussion Questions | Poster | Fatalgrams

    3.7 Working Around Water


    Settling ponds that provide process and wash water are essential features at aggregate facilities. Miners may also encounter sumps or work at barge loading or unloading areas. Therefore, miners inevitably will find themselves working around water frequently and need to take steps to keep themselves safe while working around these or other bodies of water. To prevent serious injuries and fatalities while working around water, proper policies and procedures must be in place and adhered to, including the availability, use, and maintenance of correct PPE. 


    HIGH-RISK TASKS: The following are examples of situations when working around water that have a high SIF potential. This list is not exhaustive and critical controls should be implemented for all work conducted around water.
    – Working or operating equipment around water’s edge
    – Working over water

    –    A means of escape from equipment is provided in case of an emergency (e.g., seatbelt cutter and window breaker).
    –    A throwable life ring is accessible at areas of water where work takes place (e.g., pumps).
    –    Electrical cables used around water are rated for use around water and have proper ground fault protection.
    –    Equipment is kept a safe distance back from the water’s edge.
    –    Handrails are provided around docks and work boats.
    –    Roadways are properly bermed near water hazards.
    –    Coast Guard approved Type I or Type V personal flotation devices (PFDs) are worn when working around water. 
    –    Personal flotation devices are regularly inspected for wear, tear, and damage and expiration dates are checked for styles that expire (e.g., auto-inflate PFDs). 
    –    PFDs are properly stored in a cool, dark, dry place with no heavy objects on them, which can crush or damage performance. 
    –    Workers should avoid working alone, near, or over water. If someone must work alone near or over water, a communication plan is in place.


    Discussion Questions | Poster | Fatalgrams

    3.8 Working Around Highwalls


    Miners are consistently working around highwalls while an aggregate operation is in production. Whether loading or dumping material, benching, or preparing to blast, highwalls present consistent potential hazards that must stay top of mind because, even though they may seem unwaveringly present, highwalls are consistently changing just like the work being done around and at the edge of them.


    HIGH-RISK TASKS: The following are examples of situations when working around highwalls that have a high SIF potential. This list is not exhaustive and critical controls should be implemented for all work around highwalls.
    – Working at/around the base of highwalls
    – Working at/around the edge of highwalls
    – Dumping of material near top of highwalls
    – Working on benches
    – Scaling of highwalls
    – Drilling and blasting around highwalls

    – Know what work is occurring around you, including: drill and blast activity, heavy equipment operation above you, excavation work, mucking, installation of ground support (underground)
    – Highwalls are inspected to ensure there are no signs of instability (loose rocks, etc.). Undercuts are evaluated before approaching crests, edges or drop-offs.
    – Dump areas are approached via a clear line of sight and setbacks are established.
    – Unsafe conditions are barricaded or blocked and posted with warning signs until the hazard has been addressed.
    – Berms at the base of highwalls are a minimum distance from the base of the highwall of 25% of the highwall height.
    – Workers do not stand or park equipment below an area where a rock fall could occur. 
    – Workers do not stand or work between a highwall and mobile equipment. 
    – No one enters barricaded areas without authorization.
    – Workers regularly look and listen for signs of unstable ground before starting work and continuously while they are working.
    – Slopes adjacent to road traffic are evaluated for stability issues.
    – Workers involved in blasting operations close to the edge of a highwall use fall protection.


    Discussion Questions | Poster | Fatalgrams

    3.9 Working Around Moving Machine Parts


    Moving machine parts are located throughout aggregate facilities – especially at the plant and on conveyors. Guards are essential to protect miners from becoming entangled in moving machine parts. Miners must also understand the types of guards and systems used at the mine so they can recognize the hazards, know how the guards are properly applied, how and when they can safely remove guards, when to replace them, and what to do if a guard is missing or damaged.  


    HIGH-RISK TASKS: The following are examples of situations involving working around moving machine parts that have a high SIF potential. This list is not exhaustive and critical controls should be implemented for all activities where there is exposure to moving machine parts.
    – Performing maintenance on components where there is exposure to moving machine parts (e.g., conveyor drives, head pulleys, or tail pulleys)
    – Working in an area near moving machine parts
    – Troubleshooting equipment where there is exposure to moving machine parts

    – All moving machine parts within seven feet of a walking or working surface are properly guarded while machinery is being operated. 
    – Guards are sufficiently constructed so miners cannot circumvent or bypass the guard (i.e., a miner cannot get their hand around the guard and reach the moving part). 
    – Prior to work beginning, guards are inspected for damage and to ensure any removed guards have been replaced.  
    – Guards are only removed when testing machinery, conducting maintenance, or replacing a guard and lock-out tag-out procedures are followed.  
    – Guards are immediately replaced and resecured after they have been removed to test machinery, conduct maintenance, etc.
    – Guarding materials and fastening methods are securely installed and able to withstand wear, corrosion, vibration, and shock of normal operations. 
    – If a drive belt fails inside a guard, the whipping action of the broken belt will be contained. 
    – Workers do not walk on, across, or over conveyor belts without the belts being properly locked and tagged out, secured from movement, and proper fall protection being used. 
    – Emergency stop cords are equipped on unguarded conveyors next to travel ways. Stop cords are routinely inspected and maintained to keep adequate tension and function. 


    Discussion Questions | Poster | Fatalgrams

    3.10 Working with Contractors


    Having contractors working on a mine site can present some of the most difficult safety challenges. Contractors may be far less familiar with the mine site compared to other employees, have different safety training or culture, be conducting non-routine or other types of specialized work, and more. Clear and consistent communication coupled with implementation of critical safety controls is of utmost importance for everyone onsite – both mine employees and contractors. Be sure contractors are familiar with high-risk tasks that they may encounter onsite and what critical controls need to be in place.


    HIGH-RISK TASKS: The following are examples of contractor tasks that have a high SIF potential. This list is not exhaustive and critical controls should be implemented for all contractor work.
    – Any work involving activities identified in 3.1-3.9: working at heights, entering a confined space, working with electrical or stored energy, operating or working around mobile equipment, lifting and rigging, drilling and blasting, working around moving machine parts, working around water, and/or working around highwalls.

    – A “Questions to Ask your Contractors” (see examples in this program) checklist is used before hiring.
    – Contractors have appropriate pre-qualifications including:
    – Proper licensing, training/qualification/expertise, work history, etc.
    – Contractors have been given site specific training and have appropriate up-to-date task training.
    – A pre-job walk is performed that includes outlining a clear scope of work and job hazard analysis (JHA) prior to contractors beginning work. 
    – Contractor work is isolated from active operations when possible. 
    – Appropriate contractor permit systems or workplans are in place. 
    – A site/safety person or persons are designated and assigned to do work approvals, spot checks, work verifications, etc. with contractors. 
    – Contractors are involved in pre-work daily meetings when onsite.


    Discussion Questions | Poster | Fatalgrams

    Section 4: Examples and Templates