MSHA’s July impact inspections resulted in 262 citations
As a second example from last month, MSHA conducted an impact inspection on July 17 at Cobalt Coal Corp. Mining Inc.’s Westchester Mine in McDowell County, W.Va. The inspection party captured the phones to prevent advance notice of the inspection. Inspectors issued 47 enforcement actions, including one imminent danger order, 39 citations, six unwarrantable failure orders, and one safeguard. This impact inspection was the mine’s first.
An imminent danger order was issued when stray electrical current was detected on the frame of the section power center and the no. 2 shuttle car. The operator was cited for failing to maintain the underground electrical system in a safe operating condition. In total, 15 citations and orders were issued for not maintaining face equipment in permissible condition, as well as violations relating to electric equipment, trailing cables, grounding, and underground high voltage distribution. The stray electrical current and other cited hazards could have electrocuted or seriously injured miners.
Westchester Mine also failed to conduct weekly examinations on the roof bolter, complete the examination of the conveyor belt in its entirety, and perform adequate examinations of the alternate escapeway between the belt drive and the working section. The inspectors observed hazardous conditions on the directional lifeline and tripping/stumbling hazards in the walkway directly under the lifeline. These conditions should have been discovered during examinations and then corrected to provide miners with safe passage in the alternate escapeway during a mine emergency and while working underground.
The operator was also cited for violations of standards covering roof and rib control, fire suppression, and ventilation. Of 17 ventilation violations, one was not following the approved ventilation/methane dust control plan where the air quantity in the last open crosscut was about one-fourth of what is required. Inspectors found water accumulation up to 11 inches deep in the primary intake escapeway for a distance of 40 feet in an area with a mining height of 58 inches. These conditions, if left uncorrected, affect the effectiveness of the mine’s ventilation system to control and remove methane, respirable dust, and other contaminants from the miners’ working environment.
Since April 2010, MSHA has conducted 477 impact inspections, which have resulted in a total of 8,545 citations, 852 orders, and 36 safeguards.
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