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Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy (OASP)

Evaluation of Part 50 Reporting of Mine Injuries and Illnesses

Overview

The purpose of this evaluation is to determine the accuracy and completeness of nonfatal injury and illness reporting in the mining industry. The impetus for this evaluation arises from various audit findings which disclosed significant gaps in the accuracy and completeness of injury and illness reporting in the mining industry. Mine operators who fail to file accident and injury reports are operating mines which are, by definition, less safe than they appear. Miners working in mines which are unsafe are at higher risk of occupational illnesses, severe injuries and fatalities. Accurate data on injury and illness are therefore critical to MSHA's core mission - Worker Safety - as it provides the basis for understanding trends over time, using limited resources effectively, and designing improved regulatory, training, and enforcement interventions. The evaluation will: 1) quantitatively determine the accuracy of reported illness and injury data; 2) determine if underreporting is concentrated in particular types of mines or operators; 3) assess the Mine Safety and Health Administration's Part 50 auditing process to understand if it can be made more effective; and 4) explore other data or strategies that could be used to insure more accurate and complete reporting of accidents, injuries and illness for purpose of monitoring.

Goals

The evaluation seeks answers to the following questions:

  • To what extent is there underreporting of injuries and illnesses under Part 50? Is underreporting concentrated to specific types of mines and operators or does underreporting occur across the mining industry? Are particular types of injury more likely to be inaccurately reported?
  • How could MSHA's current Part 50 audit process be made more effective at capturing accurate injury and illness information?
  • Are there other strategies that could be implemented, in addition to the Part 50 audits, to insure more accurate and complete reporting of accidents, injuries and illnesses for the purposes of monitoring?

In addition to the key research questions, the evaluation will address the following areas of inquiry:

  • While the Part 50 reports may underreport injuries and illness is the size of the underreporting constant over time for some subgroups, thus allowing MSHA to use it to track the trends in injury and illness, if not the level?
  • Can MSHA accurately estimate actual injury rates for mining injuries based on the levels reported under 30 CFR Part 50? If so, how?
  • Are there differences in the accuracy of reporting among subgroups? Is underreporting concentrated to specific mines and operators? Or does underreporting occur across the mining industry? What factors affect accuracy?
  • Is there a correlation between accuracy in reporting injury data and other measures of mine safety violations? Is there a correlation between accuracy in reporting certain types of injury data and other measures of mine safety violations?
  • Are the data reported by state worker compensation agencies, hospitals, and others consistent with the data submitted to MSHA regarding mining injuries and illnesses?
  • What other data could be used as proxies for injury and illness data which could be used to track injury and illness trends over time?
  • What are the incentives or disincentives involved in the reporting process? Do workers or supervisors have reporting disincentives? Are there ways in which positive incentives to report can be built into the system?

Key Information

The overall budget for the evaluation is $749,645. The evaluation contractor is Eastern Research Group Incorporated. For more information on this evaluation please contact Jonathan Simonetta at simonetta.jon.a@dol.gov.