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The Last Laugh

By Randy Logsdon

The intro sequence for the 1960s sitcom classic The Dick Van Dyke Show depicted Rob Petrie tripping his way into his living room to the amusement of his family, friends and coworkers. Slips, trips and falls have served to bring laughter from routines performed by the Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, Wile E. Coyote and many others. It’s a staple of the home video programs broadcast on television. If falling is so funny then working in the aggregates industry must be one of the most humorous occupations on the planet.

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MSHA Fatalities Rise in 2010

Mining fatalities in the United States significantly increased in 2010, following a year marked by the fewest deaths in mining history, according to MSHA. Seventy-one miners died on the job last year, compared to 34 in 2009.  Forty-eight of those deaths occurred in coal mines, and 23 occurred at metal and nonmetal operations.

Of the 71 mining fatalities reported, 23 of those victims were killed in surface mining accidents, while 48 miners died in underground mining accidents, 29 of whom were killed in the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in April.  The leading cause of coal mining deaths was ignition or explosion, followed by powered haulage and roof falls.  The leading cause of metal/nonmetal mining deaths was powered haulage, followed by falling or sliding material, and machinery.

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Immediate Reporting Only Required if Injury Will Reasonably Likely Cause Death

By Ellen Smith

A company was not required to report an accident to MSHA within 15 minutes where the injury to the miner was not reasonably likely to cause the miner’s death, an ALJ ruled.

Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission ALJ Priscilla M. Rae dismissed a $5,000 citation and alleged violation of the immediate reporting standard §50.2(h) against PCS Phosphate-White Spring’s Swift Mine in Florida.

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Deficit Reduction Could Hurt Small Operators

By James Sharpe

The Republican-led initiative in Congress to reduce the federal deficit could have a negative impact on small aggregates producers.

The problem may become particularly acute for small mines within the next two years. The agency has signaled its intent to tighten enforcement of its air contaminants standards in the Metal/Non-Metal (M/NM) sector. It has also announced an ambitious regulatory agenda. The proposed regulations that could have the greatest impact would be mandates to control exposure to crystalline silica and require safety and health management plans. A proposal to regulate impoundments is also expected.

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MSHA, NSSGA Offer Safety Tools

MSHA along with the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA), announced the release of a comprehensive compilation of education and training tools for the aggregates industry. "Safety Pro in a Box" is an online repository of compliance assistance materials aimed at mine operators new to the industry, especially small mine operators.

“This resource was designed to provide meaningful assistance to new operators who may be unfamiliar with the safety and health requirements that apply to their operations,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “Since small mine operators often don't have safety departments like those at larger operations, this information can provide them with the necessary training tools to ensure compliance with MSHA safety and health standards.

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