February 22, 2017
Each month, I comb through consumer news media for reports on the aggregates industry. It’s a good way to see not only what is happening with issues such as permit requests around the nation, but it’s also an opportunity to see how the industry is portrayed in the mainstream news.
Much has been made of the media during recent months, and some of those comments undermine the public’s faith in their integrity. Here’s the thing: media is made up of people. People are human, and, therefore, far from perfect. That doesn’t mean they are dishonest, but their perspective may be influenced by personal experiences and preferences. That’s why the same story may be reported in a very different manner on Fox News than on CNN. Find a journalist you trust and follow him or her. That’s what we strive to be at Aggregates Manager: a trusted source for industry information.
But, I digress. Back to those news stories. This month, one caught my eye. It was a story about a county-owned aggregates operation that was nearly shut down after a Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) inspection. In a familiar scenario, its problem began with a guarding citation. The inspector cited the operation for failure to have a guard rail on a cattle crossing that ran through the property. Equal citations, or is it protections, for all.
While cattle crossings may be a unique rationale, guarding citations are all too familiar for operators. Over the last five years, a cursory inspection of 2016 MSHA citations at surface operations shows that sand and gravel operators received 3,243 guard-related citations, while crushed stone operators received 2,114. Near the top of both lists is standard 56.14107(a) — Moving machine parts. In 2016, 1,728 citations of this standard were issued to sand and gravel producers and 1,089 citations were issued to crushed stone producers.
While the trigger for these citations is sometimes surprising, the standards themselves vary little from year to year. Since 2012, the standards most commonly cited at surface sand and gravel operations have included the following:
While the ranking within the top five standards has changed, those five have consistently been the top five sources of citations for the last five years.
For surface stone mines, the standards most frequently cited are remarkably similar:
Before your next inspection, take a look around your operation with these standards in mind. It may help you avoid a little paperwork of your own.