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United States Department of Labor

US Department of Labor: Spring Regulatory Agenda 2010

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)

Topic: MSHA’S Rules to Live By Program


MSHA’s Rules to Live by Program is a fatality prevention program designed to prevent deaths and serious accidents in America’s mines. This new initiative reflects MSHA’s commitment to eliminate hazards with the most serious consequences, targeting prevention of conditions that cause or contribute to fatal accidents in mining.


  • From 2000 through 2008, 589 miners lost their lives at work. MSHA evaluated these deaths and identified the conditions and practices that contributed to the 589 deaths, and the safety standards that were violated.
  • The MSHA analysis identified 24 standards (13 in metal and nonmetal mining and 11 in coal mining) frequently cited in fatal accident investigations in 9 accident categories.
  • Violations of 11 coal safety standards accounted for 140 (47%) of the 300 fatalities in coal mining and 13 metal and nonmetal safety standards accounted for 126 (44%) of 289 fatalities in metal and nonmetal mining.

Focus of the Rules to Live By program

  • The focus is on the 24 frequently cited standards, whose violations have caused or contributed to nearly half the fatal accidents in the mining industry since 2000.
  • MSHA implemented the first phase of industry outreach and education followed by the second phase of enhanced enforcement.

Nine Accident Categories

  • Falls from Elevation
  • Falls of Roof and Rib
  • Operating Mobile Equipment (Surface)
  • Operating Mobile Equipment (Underground)
  • Maintenance
  • Lock-Out and Tag-Out
  • Struck by Mobile Equipment (Surface)
  • Struck by Mobile Equipment (Underground)
  • Blocking Against Motion

Key elements of the enhanced enforcement phase of Rules to Live By

  • MSHA’s enhanced enforcement, rolled out on March 15, 2010, focuses on compliance with the 13 metal and nonmetal safety standards and 11 coal safety standards that were frequently cited during fatal accident investigations.
  • Enhanced enforcement for the priority standards of concern consist of three elements:
    1. increasing vigilance for violations,
    2. ensuring that any enforcement actions taken are appropriate to the seriousness of the violation, and
    3. ensuring that the proposed penalties promote compliance. All citations and orders issued against the 24 types of violations and conditions will be reviewed for possible Special Assessment.