MSHA criticized for poorly training inspectors

Tina Grady Barbaccia

May 5, 2010

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration received harsh criticism from the U.S. Department of Labor’s inspector general for failure to properly train 56 percent of journeyman (vs. new) inspectors.

The report, released the week of March 29,  shows that – after a 26 percent increase in the number of inspectors hired by the agency – more than a quarter of inspectors were not receiving the training needed to properly enforce safety and health standards. 

MSHA even authorized one person to perform inspection duties without having been required to complete the minimum, entry-level requirements. Furthermore, the MSHA Academy – where inspectors are supposed to receive their training – lacked timely and adequate support documentation for some training, the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) reports in its Washington Watch e-newsletter.
The report, which covered the training cycle from 2006 to 2007, went on to recommend a number of actions, including the following:
• implementation procedures and controls to hold supervisors accountable for assuring that all journeyman inspectors complete required, periodic training;
• revise training policy to suspend an individual’s health and safety inspection activities if designated retraining is not completed as required;
• re-emphasize to all personnel MSHA’s training requirements; and  
• develop and implement written policies and procedures to justify and document cases in which completion of minimum requirements are waived.

NSSGA says it’s worth nothing that in NSSGA CEO meetings with the agency’s leaders appointed by President Obama, the association says it forcefully advocated that training be improved resulting in more consistent and risk-based enforcement. 

MSHA’s Assistant Secretary Joe Main has indicated that improved training is a high priority. NSSGA’s Safety and Health Committee is working to identify areas of ambiguity in current law, regulation or guidance, according to NSSGA.

Check out the AggBeat news section in the June 2010 print edition of Aggregates Manager for a more detailed report on this — or come back to this site to see the report in the Aggregates Manager June 2010 digital edition.

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