The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) launched two new online tools this week to assist operators, miners, MSHA and others in tracking violations of standards commonly associated with mining deaths and frequently found by federal mine inspectors in examinations of underground coal mines. The latest tools enhance other web-based methods MSHA offers the mining industry to operate more safely. These include tools to monitor a mine’s compliance history, such as determining its eligibility for a Pattern of Violations or the number of significant and substantial violations issued in a given time period after a corrective action plan is put into place.
Rules to Live By
The newest enhancements include one which identifies the health and safety standards spotlighted in MSHA’s “Rules to Live By” outreach and enforcement program which began in 2010 to prevent some common causes of mining fatalities. Twenty-eight of those standards apply to coal mines, and 19 to metal and nonmetal mines. In particular, this rule will be an important part of MSHA’s strategy to address the spike in deaths at metal and nonmetal mines where “Rules to Live By” standards are often cited.
The second tool tracks compliance of nine standards associated with hazardous conditions that pose the greatest risk to underground coal miners. In April 2012, MSHA published a final rule on Examinations of Work Areas in Underground Coal Mines for Violations of Mandatory Health or Safety Standards, which requires mine operators to identify and correct hazardous conditions and violations of nine health and safety standards. These nine standards address ventilation, methane, roof control, combustible materials, rock dust, equipment guarding and other safeguards. They also are consistent with the standards emphasized in MSHA’s “Rules to Live By” initiative.
Companies can track their own performance
“These new web tools will enable mine operators to monitor their own compliance with specific safety and health standards that are commonly linked to mining deaths and frequently cited by MSHA,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “Operators will be able to track their mine’s performance and take any corrective action that may be needed to improve compliance.”
To access the “Rules to Live By” tool, click here and enter the mine ID. The page will display the number of “Rules to Live By” violations during the last inspection quarter for underground mines and the last 6-month inspection period for surface mines. It will list the specific “Rules to Live By” standards cited by MSHA and the number of times cited for that inspection period, as well as provide a comparison between the mine’s average number of violations based on MSHA inspection hours for that inspection period and how it compares to the national average.
To access the underground mine examination tool, click here and enter the mine ID. The page will display the number of violations of the nine examination rules during the last inspection quarter for underground coal mines and list the specific exam rule standards cited by MSHA. It will provide an average of exam rule violations based on MSHA inspection hours for that inspection period and how it compares to the national average.