The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)has announced that the agency is enhancing enforcement of its “Rules to Live By” initiative of standards commonly cited following mining deaths, as well as nine underground coal mine exam rule standards for hazards that pose the greatest risk to miners in underground coal mines.
The agency also announced that it is adding two new standards as part of “Rules to Live By IV,” specifically safe lighting of surface work areas at coal mines and protection from falling materials at metal and nonmetal mines.
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.
In 2012, MSHA issued new regulations requiring underground coal mine operators to identify and correct hazardous conditions and violations of nine health and safety standards that pose the greatest risk to miners. Fatalities associated with the exam rule standard – or Part 75 of the Code of Federal Regulations – have decreased by an average of 22 percent and S&S citations and orders issued for violations of this standard have declined by an average of 45 percent.
However, more than 15,000 citations and orders were issued for violations of exam rule standards since the implementation of the rule.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for mine safety and health, Joseph A Main said: “While we have seen some progress, we are not where we need to be if these fatalities are to be prevented. That is why we are increasing attention on these critical standards. We urge the mining industry to do the same.”