ARLINGTON, Va. — The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration today announced that federal inspectors issued 157 citations, 10 orders and one safeguard during special impact inspections conducted at nine coal mines and four metal/nonmetal mines last month.
The monthly inspections, which began in April 2010 following the explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine, involve mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement because of their poor compliance history or particular compliance concerns. These matters include high numbers of violations or closure orders; frequent hazard complaints or hotline calls; plan compliance issues; inadequate workplace examinations; a high number of accidents, injuries or illnesses; fatalities; adverse conditions such as increased methane liberation, faulty roof conditions and inadequate ventilation, and respirable dust.
"After Upper Big Branch, we undertook an aggressive strategy to compel mine operators to take responsibility for the safety and health of their workers," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "The data we've collected from our impact inspection program, which strategically targets problem mines, shows compliance is improving and that we continue to move the mine safety needle in the right direction."
From April 2010 through June 2013, total violations (per 100 on-site inspection hours) decreased 18 percent in coal mines and 18 percent in metal/nonmetal mines; significant and substantial violations decreased 23 percent in coal mines and 37 percent in metal/nonmetal mines; unwarrantable failure violations decreased 45 percent in coal mines and 65 percent in metal/nonmetal mines, and operator-reported lost-time injuries per 200,000 hours worked decreased 9 percent in coal mines and 26 percent in metal/nonmetal mines.
"These impact inspections are a critical part of MSHA's enforcement efforts to make sure mine operators take seriously their legal obligation to ensure that miners go home safe and healthy at the end of their shift," added Main. "MSHA will continue this increased scrutiny at mines that warrant it, which is adding to the safety progress we are making in the mining community."
Since April 2010, MSHA has conducted 629 impact inspections and issued 10,640 citations, 980 orders and 45 safeguards.
Editor's note: A spreadsheet containing the results of impact inspections in June 2013 accompanies this news release.
- View the spreadsheet (PDF)