MSHA Meets Inspection Goal

The U.S. House Education and Labor Committee's chairman, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., can breathe easier: MSHA has finished all fiscal 2008 mandatory regular inspections on time, something it has never accomplished before in its 31-year history. Miller, author of the bills that spurred higher MSHA penalties and new emergency equipment and training for underground miners, has pushed MSHA to get its inspections done in a timely fashion.

The agency added inspectors and launched a 100 Percent Plan in October 2007 to get the inspections done. MSHA announced the achievement Wednesday. "Miners are safer today due to the success of this program. Reaching this milestone is an outstanding and significant achievement," said Richard E. Stickler, acting assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. Inspections were completed at more than 14,800 active mining operations nationwide, MSHA said.

Stickler said the plan succeeded because of the willingness and work ethic of dedicated career MSHA employees, the temporary reassignment of MSHA inspectors to areas where they were most needed, more overtime, and better oversight and tracking of inspections by the agency's district offices and headquarters. MSHA said nearly 190,000 hours of inspector overtime were logged during FY2008, and more than 172,000 citations and orders were written.

The Mine Act requires MSHA to inspect every underground mine four times per year and every surface mine twice per year.

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