Search form

Mixed Results Seen in Mine Safety Agency’s February Impact Inspections

  • April 21, 2016

Two coal mines in Appalachia received no citations while four other coal operations in that region, along with an Indiana cement plant, were tagged with alleged infractions in the double digits by the Mine Safety and Health Administration during an impact inspection sweep in February. Ten coal mines and five metal/non-metal facilities in nine states were visited during the month.

In addition, a Nevada gold mine received just a single alleged violation. Four other mines received five or fewer citations. These low numbers are noteworthy because MSHA’s impact inspection program seeks out mines identified by the agency as troubled by compliance problems.

Three of the higher-citation coal mines were also located in Kentucky and West Virginia; the fourth was in Southwestern Virginia. In a March 30 press release announcing the inspection results, MSHA singled out a fifth coal mine. The agency said the mine had attracted its attention due to alleged continuing noncompliance with its roof control and ventilation plans, hazard condition complaints, and accident history. Enforcement personnel issued nine citations and six orders, citing the Pennsylvania operator with four alleged unwarrantable failure violations involving an inadequate pre-shift examination, unattended energized equipment, accumulations of methane in the same working section where the allegedly unattended equipment was located, and failure to maintain firefighting equipment along an active beltline.

Under the program, which began after 29 miners died in a West Virginia coal mine explosion in April 2010, MSHA has conducted 1,113 impact inspections and issued 15,979 citations, 1,309 orders, and 58 safeguards. A safeguard is designed to minimize hazards in the transportation of men and materials in coal mines. It is issued by an inspector and, unless successfully challenged, the safeguard becomes a legal requirement from then on at the affected mine.

For many mine operators, compliance problems and the threat of MSHA citations remain a significant challenge. Our experienced attorneys are available to help avoid an impact inspection or to minimize the impact should one occur.
In a separate new release, dated April 7, MSHA stated that preliminary data identified 2015 as the safest year ever in U.S. mining, with fatality and injury rates for the industry as a whole coming in at record lows. Adjusted for reduced employment figures, compliance with safety standards also improved. This was evident in an 11-percent reduction in the number of citations and orders issued. In addition, with about 98 percent of alleged violations assessed, penalty assessments dropped to $62.3 million during the year, the agency said. In contrast, fines totaled $96.7 million in 2014, according to MSHA’s database.

©2016 Jackson Lewis P.C. This Update is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney/client relationship between Jackson Lewis and any readers or recipients. Readers should consult counsel of their own choosing to discuss how these matters relate to their individual circumstances. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the express written consent of Jackson Lewis.

This Update may be considered attorney advertising in some states. Furthermore, prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Jackson Lewis P.C. represents management exclusively in workplace law and related litigation. Our attorneys are available to assist employers in their compliance efforts and to represent employers in matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. For more information, please contact the attorney(s) listed or the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work.

See AllRelated Articles You May Like

November 16, 2017

Transportation Department Expands Drug Testing Panel to Include Certain ‘Semi-Synthetic’ Opioids

November 16, 2017

Employers regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) should revise their drug and alcohol testing policies to conform to new DOT regulations that added four “semi-synthetic” opioid drugs to the DOT drug testing panel. The new regulations go into effect on January 1, 2018. DOT announced in a rule published in the Federal... Read More

October 27, 2017

What Employers Need to Know about OSHA’s Respirable Crystalline Silica Rule for Construction

October 27, 2017

Full enforcement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s new respirable crystalline silica rule in the construction industry began on October 23, 2017, according to the agency. The silica rule is one of the most comprehensive health standards ever issued for the construction industry and significantly reduces the... Read More

August 23, 2017

Mine Safety Agency Implements Medical Standards Action Plan for Inspectors, Technical Personnel

August 23, 2017

The Mine Safety and Health Administration will implement an action plan for employees who do not meet the agency’s medical standards.   As a condition of employment, MSHA inspectors and technical personnel must undergo periodic medical examinations, including vision and hearing tests, and meet medical standards set by the Office... Read More

Related Practices