jmain-reformattedToday MSHA held a briefing to present their proposed rule change for Workplace Examinations in Metal-Nonmetal. My preliminary assessment is that it makes the following changes:

  • Examinations will be required at the START of each shift. Yes, I’ve said this in Refresher classes. It’s silly, but the current rule just says that it’s required during each shift. No problem here. If you’re doing it effectively now you’re already doing it at the start of the shift.
  • Examination records must include hazards found and corrections made. This is the stickiest of things to include in an MSHA required report, but again an important part of a good safety examination process. Joe Main dodged the question of how MSHA Inspectors may or may not use these records to write citations based on the hazards recorded by iterating that this was a briefing and such questions were more correctly addressed during the 90 day comment period to commence tomorrow.
  • Examination records must be available to miners and miner representatives. While this  isn’t included in the current rule again, an effective program certainly has to warn the workers who would be exposed to the hazard or even a corrected hazard.

Check out the MSHA FACT SHEET here.


Since 2000, 83 training citations or orders were issued to Metal/Nonmetal mine operators related to workplace examinations following fatal and non-fatal accident investigations.

MSHA has issued an alert to miners to conduct workplace examinations to protect miners. The alert, in the form of a one page poster includes regulation 30 CFR § 56.18002 along with definitions of competent person and working place.


Download the poster here.

c92179_mMSHA has issued a PPL is a general statement of policy that provides mine operators guidance in implementing: (1) post-accident wireless two-way communication between underground and surface personnel and (2) electronic tracking systems, both of which are required by the MINER Act. The two-way communication systems currently include infrastructure underground to provide untethered communications with miners.

Click here for: P14-V-01 (pdf).


A ladder safety Powerpoint and PDF were released by MSHA at a February 5 Stakeholders Meeting.  The Powerpoint version includes 62 slides, most of which include extensive detail in the notes section that aren’t visible to the regular viewing audience when presented. MSHA intends that “it will serve as the basis for a series of inspector trainings on ladder safety in the coming months, and will ensure that MSHA inspectors, miners and mine operators are all working with the same information”.

Major areas covered include: Ladder construction and maintenance; requirements specific to fixed and portable ladders; underground ladders and travelways; and the differentiation between ladder standards and safe access standards. Photographs in the presentation clearly show proper and improper practices, and note which conditions would be cited in an inspection.

Get it along with other materials from the meeting here.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration announced that federal inspectors issued 374 citations, orders and safeguards during special impact inspections conducted at 18 coal mines and two metal/nonmetal mines in September 2011. The coal mines were issued 292 citations, 28 orders and one safeguard, while the metal/nonmetal operations were issued 52 citations and one order.

Special impact inspections, which began in force in April 2010 following the explosion at Upper Big Branch Mine, involve mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to their poor compliance history or particular compliance concerns, including high numbers of violations or closure orders; indications of operator tactics, such as advance notification of inspections that prevent inspectors from observing violations; frequent hazard complaints or hotline calls; plan compliance issues; inadequate workplace examinations; a high number of accidents, injuries or illnesses; fatalities; and adverse conditions, such as increased methane liberation, faulty roof conditions and inadequate ventilation.

Click here for: MSHA Press Release (pdf), Results Spreadsheet (pdf)


Check out the OSHA Noise Exposure Resource online here.

Pages for:

  • Health Effects
  • Exposure and Controls
  • Hearing Conservation
  • Construction
  • General Resources
  • Standards
Links to tons of resources to help you prevent noise-induced hearing loss. As the site says, it IS preventable.


MSHA proposed a rule that would lower underground and surface miners’ exposure to respirable coal mine dust by revising the Agency’s existing standards. The major provisions of the proposal would lower the existing respirable dust exposure limit from 2.0 mg/m3 to 1.0 mg/m3 over a 24-month phase-in period; require full-shift sampling; and redefine the term “normal production shift.”  In addition, the proposed rule would provide for the use of a single full-shift compliance sampling under the mine operator and MSHA’s inspector sampling programs, establish requirements for use of the Continuous Personal Dust Monitor (CPDM) to monitor exposure, and expand medical surveillance of coal miners. Read the full proposed rule below.

Click here for: Proposed Rule in Federal Register (pdf)

ARLINGTON, Va. – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration today announced the second phase in major reforms to its pattern of violations process, which includes tougher provisions for mines with chronic and persistent violations of significant health and safety regulations. This announcement coincides with the release of an independent analysis prepared by the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General: “In 32 years MSHA Has Never Successfully Exercised its Pattern of Violation Authority.” Earlier this week, MSHA publicized new screening criteria for the POV enforcement program.

Click here for: MSHA Press Release (pdf), POV Screening Criteria 2010 (pdf), POV Procedures Summary 2010 (pdf), POV Regulations (web)

MSHA will be holding public meetings to “gather information about effective, comprehensive safety and health management programs at mines”.  There will be three of them. It amazes yours truly that two of the three are during TRAM, an event in MSHA’s own Mine Safety Academy in West Virginia that attracts the best mine safety professionals from around the country.  While it’s possible there will be the gathering of such information there for MSHA as well it is strange and untimely that MSHA officially seems to have ignored it’s own event as a wonderful opportunity to acquire this information. Certainly there are those who don’t attend the event who have important things to add to the discussion it seems strange to remove the hundreds who will attend TRAM from participating.

Below is a link to the notice in the Federal Register. Yes, I read those boring things daily. Information is provided there about the events, their intent to use the information to “develop a proposed rule for Safety and Health Management Programs for mines which will allow miners and operators to be proactive in their approach to health and safety”,  and instructions on how to comment.

Click here for: Federal Register Notice