Online Safety Community

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), a division of the U.S. Dept. of Labor, provides a complete listing of hazard classifications for dams.


These include:

  • Low Hazard Potential
  • High Hazard Potential
  • Significant Hazard Potential

MSHA provides these hazard classifications for the purpose of assessing potential impact should dam failure occur. These hazard classifications also serve another purpose:


"To establish appropriate criteria for use in the design and operation of the facility. Thus, more conservative design and operations criteria apply as the potential for loss of life or property damage from failure increases.” –

MSHA also indicates that more subsurface exploration and material property testing is normally performed for a facility with high hazard potential than one with low hazard potential.

Utilizing Hazard Classifications

Since MSHA allows facility managers to assess "potential" impacts of a failure, this helps avoid loss of operational safety on site. MSHA classifications adapt to the existing design of the specific facility and through proper assessment and implementation, focus attention on full phase operations and employee safety while performing daily tasks. 

Guidelines to Dam Safety

Dam safety begins with design engineers whose task is to optimize safety in structural drawings of a new dam. Construction of proposed dams are massive projects that require strict attention to compliance regulations such as those found within MSHA and safe construction principles.

Among the guidelines to dam safety in construction and operation, dam design for proposed or existing mining facilities, require expertise and certification by hydrological design, engineering and construction professionals. 

Large dams provide hydroelectric power. Smaller dams may be constructed for the purpose of flood control in flood plain areas or as retention basins to prevent soil erosion, depending on the circumstances and design sizes required. Still other dams serve mining operations and for runoff retention purposes.

Basic guidelines for dam safety are authorized on a federal and state level. Federal Guidelines for Dam Safety includes hazard classifications similar to MSHA, which is based on potential for worst case failure conditions and consequences of failure should a dam failure occur. In the U.S., there were over 8,000 deaths and 200 dam failures during the 20th century, punctuating further the need for federal and state safety guidelines.

Under federal dam safety guidelines, provisions for consideration include:


  • Hydraulic head
  • Potential for breaches based on size and holding volume
  • Impact of potential natural disasters
  • Issues of non-compliance and conditions of licensing
  • Construction and operational issues


Note that on a state-by-state basis, each state may have dam safety regulations in addition to those at the federal level. This is usually due to topographical differences existing in a particular state. 

In order to maintain dam safety at mining facilities, regular inspections are required to prevent fatalities, property damage and property loss in entirety. Under the MSHA Dam Safety Program, dams and impoundments are evaluated from measurable downstream distances. 

Relationship of Dams and Impoundments in Mining Operations

Large mining operations utilize the expertise of a diverse group of engineers to design methods to store water for mining use and mining waste impounds. 

As stated by MSHA, water used in mining operations require runoff control to "to prevent flooding of mine facilities. Runoff control is also necessary to "collect and prevent sediment from running off the mine property." 

All mining materials impounded as liquid, solid or water waste may be a hazard to miners, should the holding dam fail for any reason. All dams used in mining operations must comply with federal and state regulations from startup design to construction and daily operations to avoid risk to workers, mine property and surrounding properties, rivers, lakes and streams, beyond the mining property lines.

Importance of MSHA Safety and Training

Mine owners live daily with potential risk. However, mine owners practice due diligence with regard to reducing risk and adhering to federal and state mining safety compliance regulations. 

In order to ensure safety at all levels of mining operations, MSHA safety can be readily adapted through safety training programs and regular refresher training courses for employees and management. 

An investment in a MSHA Safety Program results in a return in risk reduction and a safer workplace.

Views: 15


You need to be a member of Online Safety Community to add comments!

Join Online Safety Community

Take our poll!

Take our poll!

Latest Activity

Jam Blanco posted a blog post

Top Cal/OSHA Violations and How to Avoid Them

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health or Cal/OSHA is responsible for enforcing workplace safety standards in the state. According to the laws of the state, all employers have to have an effective and running IIPP or Injury and Illness Prevention Program in place that can prevent health and safety issues in the workplace. This includes but is not limited to plans for workplace hazards, safety communication, and safety training programs.…See More
14 hours ago
Mark Nilson posted events
17 hours ago
Adam Fleaming posted a blog post

Good Documentation Practices Relating to USP

Good Documentation Practices (GDP) is a quintessential part of regulated manufacturing and laboratory environments. GDP has to be adhered to in the regulated industries because it is the only truly authentic method of ensuring that documents are audited and accounted for. GDP is also essential to keep track of and maintain control at all stages of the process and the product. GDP is thus a core requirement of a thoroughly developed Quality System. US Pharmacopeia (USP) has laid out a series of…See More
18 hours ago
Training Doyens posted events
21 hours ago


Understanding Data Parallelism in MapReduce

In order to understand the goals of MapReduce, it is important to realize for which scenarios MapReduce is optimized. The MapReduce programming model is created for processing data which requires…Continue

Tags: program, Implementation, Mapreduce

Started by gracylayla Mar 14.

Automation Anywhere. How do I pick a value from dropdown

Automation Anywhere. How do I pick a value from dropdown. I tried 'set text' from a copied variable. Its very slow, and also doesnt…Continue

Tags: anywhere, automation

Started by emmablisa Mar 9.

TensorFlow serving vs TensorFlow service

I have a question regarding the difference between TensorFlow Serving versus TensorFlow service. (Sorry that I'm not familiar with this at all.)I found TensorFlow serving's definition, which is "…Continue

Tags: training, online, tensorflow

Started by emmablisa Feb 27.

Proper maintenance for Hi Vis clothing

Can you tell me how to properly take care of Hi Vis jackets? I recently purchased a few ones from this…Continue

Started by Lily Osborn Feb 25.

Forklift Operator Requirements 1 Reply

At our company we have a lot of forklift traffic that has to share the same aisles as our pedestrians. We limit the speed of our lifts to 3 mph.  I am wanting to find out what requirements for…Continue

Started by Rick Briggs. Last reply by Tony Ferraro Feb 25.



© 2018   Created by Safety Community.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service