MSHA June impact inspections: 194 citations issued
The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) revealed on July 28 that federal inspectors issued 194 citations, orders, and safeguards during special impact inspections conducted at 12 coal mines and two metal/non-metal mines during the month of June.
The coal mines were issued 154 citations, 12 orders, and three safeguards, while the metal/non-metal operations were issued 21 citations and four orders.
These inspections, which began in force in April 2010 following the explosion at Upper Big Branch Mine, involve mines that are said to merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to their poor compliance history or particular compliance concerns, including high numbers of violations or closure orders; indications of operator tactics, such as advance notification of inspections that prevent inspectors from observing violations; frequent hazard complaints or hotline calls; plan compliance issues; inadequate workplace examinations; a high number of accidents, injuries or illnesses; fatalities; and adverse conditions such as increased methane liberation, faulty roof conditions, and inadequate ventilation.
“The impact inspection program has been an invaluable tool for identifying and addressing mines with serious compliance issues,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “While we are still finding mines with chronic problems, we are cautiously optimistic that the majority of operators are getting the message.”
As an example from last month’s impact inspections, MSHA conducted an impact inspection June 13-16 at Lehigh Southwest Cement Co.’s Lehigh Permanente Cement Co. This is a large cement facility located in Santa Clara County, Calif., employing about 106 miners. MSHA issued 21 citations and four unwarrantable failure orders during the inspection.
Inspectors noted a number of hazardous conditions, including tripping hazards in workplaces, passageways, storerooms and service rooms; safety defects not repaired in a timely manner, including not securing inspection doors on a kiln and sharp metal roofing hanging down in a travelway; miners working at elevation without proper scaffolding or working platforms; warning signs not readily visible to prohibit smoking and open flames where a fire or explosion hazard exist, and not securing guards while operating machinery.
This is the third impact inspection at this mine. Previous inspections were conducted in January and April 2011.
As a second example from last month, an inspection party arrived during the evening shift on June 3 at S&H Mining Inc.’s S and H Mining Inc. mine in Anderson County, Tenn. Inspectors immediately captured the mine phones on the surface to prevent advance notification. They issued 32 citations and orders, nearly half of them designated as significant and substantial. This is the second impact inspection conducted at this mine; the first was conducted in March 2011.