On January 11, a contract miner was killed while riding on top of a skip in a ventilation shaft; he was caught between a support beam in the shaft and a handrail on the skip.

Just a few days earlier on January 8, a sales representative was killed helping to change a screen liner on a screen deck.

A total of seven contractor miners were victims of mining fatalities in 2014.

In light of this string of incidents, MSHA is now focusing on best practice ideas for operations, including the monitoring of all personnel to ensure safe work procedure compliance, as well as the establishment and discussion of safe work procedures for those mines without set outlines.

Additionally, the agency has urged all mines to identify and control all work-related hazards along with proper protection methods and inspections of work areas before work begins.

Pre-operational checks are also being stressed by MSHA, which allows mines to identify defects that could affect safe equipment operation. Proper use of personal protection equipment, including fall protection, hard hats, seat belts and safety glasses, can also protect against hazards, it said.

A printable version of the alert is available at http://www.msha.gov/Alerts/contractor-fatality-alert.pdf