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Big Picture Look at Safety Needed after Coal Tragedy

By James Sharpe

Fewer U.S. miners died in 2009 than in any other prior year. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) heralded the achievement in a January 2010 news release with these words:

Just three short months later, an explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia convulsed the nation and cast doubt on the agency's self-congratulatory claim about the central role of tough enforcement in mine safety. Responding to the worst disaster in U.S. coal mining in 40 years, Celeste Monforton, a former staffer under MSHA Assistant Secretary Davitt McAteer, expressed the sentiment of many when she said, “I really wonder if we're moving backwards rather than forwards.”

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Severely Scratched Windshield Costs Company $10,000

By Ellen Smith

Lafarge Midwest Inc. was ordered to pay a $10,000 penalty for a severely scratched windshield on a gator that was used on every shift, seven days a week, with Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission ALJ Margaret Miller increasing the penalty from MSHA’s initial fine of $8,209.

MSHA issued a citation for a violation of §56.14103(b), which requires that damaged windows , which obscure visibility necessary for safe operation, or create a hazard to the equipment operator, must be replaced or removed.

Read more: Severely Scratched Windshield Costs Company $10,000

Tough Talk Won’t Improve Mine Safety

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis made comments worth repeating to the entire mining community when she spoke to the Board of Directors of the National Mining Association (NMA) recently.

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Risk Assessment 101

A lot has been said about hazard awareness, hazard recognition and hazard identification in the workplace. All of these are fairly synonymous terms for the act of understanding those elements in the work environment that can be harmful— a key element to protecting your safety.

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ALJ Sustains $2,000 Penalty for Guarding Violation

ALJ Margaret A. Miller affirmed several citations against Blue Mountain Production Co., the largest being a $2,000 fine for an S&S and unwarrantable failure violation of §56.14107(a), which requires moving machine parts be guarded to protect persons from moving parts that can cause injury.

Read more: ALJ Sustains $2,000 Penalty for Guarding Violation