March 6, 2014
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph A. Main talked with the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association’s (NSSGA) board of directors on Wednesday in Las Vegas to update them about recent actions taken by the Mine Safety and Health Administration to improve miner safety and health.
Main said mine safety has steadily improved since 2010, when MSHA began implementing reforms such as its Rules to Live By initiative that focuses on common causes of mining fatalities, impact inspections of problem mines and the “Pattern of Violations” program that targets chronic violators. The “Pattern of Violations” program has improved compliance and reduced injuries, as well as reduced the number of chronic violators by 83 percent, Main said.
Main also noted that the industry as a whole has achieved the lowest fatality and injury rates in the history of mining for the past three years, as well as a 25-percent decrease in violations from 2010 through 2013.
However, Main pointed out that there were nine metal and nonmetal mining deaths in the last quarter of 2013. He said the agency is working to reverse that trend.
In addition to its recent reforms, MSHA has also worked with stakeholders to identify areas in safety and health compliance that need to be improved. Main said the agency’s outreach on guarding standards has resulted in 40 percent more compliance. He also noted that fall protection violations are down 25 percent since the agency published a Program Policy Letter recognizing Occupational Health and Administration standards on fall protection.
Additionally, MSHA has issued a policy letter recognizing OSHA’s hazard communication standard and launched a new ladder safety guide.
Main added that MSHA has also made other efforts to improve safety, including the completion of nearly 100 actions based on recommendations identified by the internal review of the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster; help in creating the Holmes Mine Rescue Association; reforming coal, metal and nonmetal mine rescue training contests; improving enforcement of workplace safety discrimination cases; and reducing the backlog of cases pending before the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission from more than 89,000 contested violations in 2010 to about 31,000 in 2013.