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Enhanced MSHA Enforcement Begins This Month

On July 1, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) began enhanced enforcement of “Rules to Live By,” its initiative of standards commonly cited following mine deaths, as well as some standards for the coal industry.

“While we’ve seen progress in reducing mining deaths associated with Rules to Live By, mine operators need to conduct better site inspections and take appropriate action to improve compliance with these standards,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “That is why we are increasing attention on these critical standards. We urge the mining industry to do the same.”

An agency analysis of hundreds of U.S. mining fatalities in a 10-year period shows that fatalities associated with Rules to Live By standards have decreased an average of 23 percent, and significant and substantial citations and orders issued for violations of these standards have declined an average of 37 percent.

Since July 1, MSHA inspectors started to employ the agency’s web-based Rules to Live By more extensively to determine the number of 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.