February 1, 2012
The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) on Jan. 31 launched the third phase of an outreach and enforcement program designed to strengthen efforts to prevent mining fatalities. “Rules to Live By III: Preventing Common Mining Deaths” will focus on 14 safety standards that were chosen because violations related to each have been cited as contributing to at least five mining accidents and at least five deaths during the 10-year period of Jan. 1, 2001, to Dec. 31, 2010.
“The goal of this phase of ‘Rules to Live By’ is to reduce numbers of deaths and injuries from the targeted standards by having mine operators identify and correct all hazardous conditions, direct MSHA enforcement toward confirming that violations related to these conditions are not present at mines, and ensure miners are better trained to recognize and avoid these particular hazards,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, in an MSHA press release.
From 2001 through 2010, 609 miners lost their lives in workplace accidents. Violations associated with eight coal standards contributed to 75 deaths during this period, while violations associated with six metal and nonmetal standards contributed to 50 deaths.
The coal standards are as follows:
75.362(a)(1) on-shift examination
77.404(a) machinery and equipment; operation and maintenance
77.405(b) performing work from a raised position; safeguards
77.1000 highwalls, pits and spoil banks; plans
77.1605(b) loading and haulage equipment; installations
77.1606(a) loading and haulage equipment; inspection and maintenance
77.1607(b) loading and haulage equipment; operation
77.1713(a) daily inspection of surface coal mine; certified person; reports of inspection
The metal and nonmetal standards are as follows:
46.7(a) new task training
56.3130 wall, bank and slope stability
56.3200 correction of hazardous conditions
56.15020 life jackets and belts
56.14100(b) safety defects; examination, correction and records
57.14100(b) safety defects; examination, correction and records
Beginning April 1, MSHA will focus more attention on these 14 standards with enhanced enforcement efforts, increased scrutiny for related violations, and instructions to inspectors to more carefully evaluate gravity and negligence – consistent with the seriousness of the violation – when citing violations that cause or contribute to mining fatalities. MSHA inspectors will receive online training to promote consistency in enforcement activity across the agency.
As with the first two phases of “Rules to Live By,” online training will be available to the mining industry and the public on MSHA’s website, and MSHA will provide operators with program and resource information. The agency also will reach out to engage miners and their representatives during the course of MSHA inspections to disseminate appropriate compliance assistance materials – including engineering suggestions, safety target materials packages and other resources – so that they have the appropriate information to address and eliminate workplace hazards.
“In 2011, mining deaths fell to the second lowest annual total on record – a testament to the commitment of miners, mine operators, miners’ representatives, labor and industry organizations, state agencies and grantees, members of the mining community and MSHA,” said Main. “While the mining community achieved near-record low numbers of mining deaths in the United States and has seen a significant decline in fatal mining accidents during the past 10 years, too many miners still lose their lives in preventable accidents. The loss of even one miner causes devastation and pain to the victim’s family, friends and co-workers.
“Compliance with safety and health standards is the responsibility of mine operators, with the assistance of miners. Ultimately, all of us must focus on why these accidents happen and how to prevent them,” he added.
The first phase of “Rules to Live By” began in February 2010.
For additional information about “Rules to Live By,” visit http://www.msha.gov/focuson/rulestoliveby.asp.