August 2008 – AggBeat
by Tina Grady Barbaccia, Senior Editor
Stickler offers Miner Act update
On June 16, Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Richard Stickler provided an update on Miner Act enforcement and fielded questions from the press. “This is the second anniversary of the Miner Act and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has been working very diligently on its implementation,” he told conference call attendees.
Stickler then reviewed the four new rules promulgated by the agency, including those addressing civil penalties, seals, mine rescue, and emergency mine evacuation and described the number of agency regulatory initiatives as “unprecedented.”
In regards to underground communication devices, he noted that devices equivalent to a phone are currently in use. However, in June 2009, communication must be conducted via wireless two-way media. If viable technology does not exist at that time, he said that alternatives may be used. “We’re working with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to develop performance-based criteria to determine what the next best alternative is,” Stickler said.
The agency will require the use of devices to track miners underground. Those devices are available and must be in place next summer.
Stickler indicated that the agency is trending toward issuing 180,000 violations this year, compared to 140,000 issued in 2007, which was a record. He also estimated that that there would be a 60-percent increase in the number of unwarrantable failure violations issued.
“We’ve seen a significant increase in penalties,” Stickler noted. He reported that $35 million in penalties were assessed in 2006, but that number increased to $75 million in 2007.
“Penalties and an increase in enforcement have led mine operators to ask for conference on a high number of violations and to contest a high number of violations,” he said. “We put on our Web site (www.msha.gov) a database that shows the operators that are contesting violations. We have identified over 200 operators that are contesting 100 percent of violations that MSHA is issuing. It appears to me that they are deliberately abusing the system and creating a backlog that is making it difficult for MSHA and for everyone involved. It’s unfortunate the amount of resources that is going into that process.”
- by Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-Chief
2006 2007 % Change
Penalties Assessed $35 million $75 million 214% increase
MORE FROM AggBeat
SUBSCRIBE & FOLLOW
- Former gravel quarry-turned-landfill transforms into nature reserve521 Views
- North Carolina grants Martin Marietta water quality certification for limestone quarry256 Views
- Vulcan-blocking bill dies in Alabama legislature251 Views
- Road restrictions may stop quarry construction in Kentucky214 Views
- Two suspects charged with arson in Jack’s Mountain Quarry case in Virginia128 Views