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Impact Inspections

MSHA announced that federal inspectors issued 377 citations and orders during special impact inspections conducted at 15 coal and seven metal/nonmetal mine operations last month. The coal mines were issued 208 citations and seven orders while the metal/nonmetal mines were issued 148 citations and 14 orders.

That is up from December, when federal inspectors issued 288 citations, orders and safeguards at 13 coal and four metal/nonmetal mine operations. The coal mines were issued 170 citations, 15 orders and one safeguard while the metal/nonmetal mines were issued 90 citations and 12 orders.

These inspections, which began in force last April following the explosion at Upper Big Branch Mine, involve mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to their poor compliance history or particular compliance concerns, including high numbers of violations or closure orders; indications of operator tactics, such as advance notification of inspections that prevent inspectors from observing violations; frequent hazard complaints or hotline calls; plan compliance issues; inadequate workplace examinations; a high number of accidents, injuries or illnesses; fatalities; and adverse conditions such as increased methane liberation, faulty roof conditions and inadequate ventilation.

“Some mine operators have begun to show signs ofimprovement, while others continue to demonstrate poor compliance with and health laws,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health.

MSHA is seeking to reduce fatalities after a year in which 71 miners died on the job, including seven metal/nonmetal miners who died in powered haulage accidents; two metal/nonmetal miners who were fatally crushed by roof falls and rib rolls; and six metal/nonmetal miners who died when they were struck by falling material or moving objects.