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MSHA Enhancing Enforcement of ‘Rules to Live By’

In a meeting with mining industry stakeholders, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced that the agency is enhancing enforcement of its “Rules to Live By” initiative of standards commonly cited following mining deaths.

Beginning July 1, MSHA will more extensively employ its web-based Rules to Live By and exam rule calculators to determine the number of Rules to Live By and exam rule citations and orders issued during the most recent completed inspection periods for which data are available. Inspectors will provide mine operators with a copy of the results, encouraging them to use the tools to monitor their own compliance and take action to eliminate violations. The results will be added to criteria for consideration of impact inspections, particularly targeting mines with elevated noncompliance of these standards.

In an effort to prevent mining deaths, MSHA launched its Rules to Live By outreach and enforcement initiative in 2010. The effort focused on the most commonly cited safety standard violations that have caused or contributed to fatal mining accidents. Two subsequent phases focused on preventing catastrophic accidents and preventing common mining deaths.

“MSHA analyzed the cause of death of hundreds of U.S. mining fatalities in a 10-year period to identify the conditions and practices that contributed to the fatalities, safety standards violated, root causes and abatement practices,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “With this information, we can better target the causes and take action to prevent needless mining deaths.”

The agency analysis shows fatalities associated with Rules to Live By standards have decreased by an average of 23 percent. Significant and substantial citations and orders issued for violations of these standards have also declined by an average of 37 percent, while MSHA issued more than 45,000 “significant and substantial” citations and orders for violations of Rules to Live By standards.