Starting in the spring, special safety and compliance inspections by the Mine Safety and Health Administration will focus on some of the standards that may have the greatest impact on reducing accidents and death in mining. Even though mine fatalities fell to near record lows last year, data from the past decade shows more focus is needed. According to MSHA, 609 miners lost their lives in workplace accidents from 2001 through 2010. Violations associated with eight coal standards contributed to 58 deaths during this period, while violations associated with six metal and nonmetal standards contributed to 47 deaths.
This week, MSHA launched the third phase campaign designed to strengthen efforts to prevent mining fatalities. “Rules to Live By III: Preventing Common Mining Deaths” focuses on 14 safety standards, each chosen because related violations contributed to at least five mining accidents and at least five deaths during last decade. The first phase of “Rules to Live By” began one year ago.
Beginning April 1, MSHA will focus more attention on these 14 standards with enhanced enforcement efforts, increased scrutiny for related violations, and instructions to inspectors for more carefully evaluating gravity and negligence.
Here are the standards under the microscope for this phase of the “Rules to Live By” program:
Coal Mining Standards
-75.362(a)(1) on-shift examination
-77.404(a) machinery and equipment; operation and maintenance
-77.405(b) performing work from a raised position; safeguards
-77.1000 highwalls, pits and spoil banks; plans
-77.1605(b) loading and haulage equipment; installations
-77.1606(a) loading and haulage equipment; inspection and maintenance
-77.1607(b) loading and haulage equipment; operation
-77.1713(a) daily inspection of surface coal mine; certified person; reports of inspection
Metal and Nonmetals Standards
-46.7(a) new task training
-56.3130 wall, bank and slope stability
-56.3200 correction of hazardous conditions
-56.15020 life jackets and belts
-56.14100(b) safety defects; examination, correction and records
-57.14100(b) safety defects; examination, correction and records
MSHA inspectors will be receiving online training to promote consistency in enforcement activity across the agency. The agency will also provide mine operators with program and resource information, and it will be reaching out to engage miners and their representatives during the course of MSHA inspections to disseminate appropriate compliance assistance materials, including engineering suggestions, safety target materials packages and other resources.
“In 2011, mining deaths fell to the second lowest annual total on record – a testament to the commitment of miners, mine operators, miners’ representatives, labor and industry organizations, state agencies and grantees, members of the mining community and MSHA,” said Main. “While the mining community achieved near-record low numbers of mining deaths in the United States and has seen a significant decline in fatal mining accidents during the past 10 years, too many miners still lose their lives in preventable accidents. The loss of even one miner causes devastation and pain to the victim’s family, friends and co-workers.”
For more information, you can check MSHA’s “Rules to Live By” page here.