Joseph A. Main is assistant U.S. secretary of labor for mine safety and health.

Mining Association Backs New MSHA Enforcement Program

Assistant Secretary Joseph A. Main said the "Rules to Live By" program "should make great strides in preventing fatal accidents."

Two meetings this week, Feb. 11 in Austin, Texas, and Feb. 12 in Charleston, W.Va., are the rollout of a new MSHA outreach and enforcement program named "Rules to Live By." With Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of mine safety and health, taking the lead, the program uses outreach and targeted inspections to focus attention on the 24 safety and health standards most frequently cited during fatality investigations.

Before launching the program, MSHA analyzed all of the 589 mining fatalities that occurred from 2000 to 2008. The analysis identified 11 coal and 13 metal/nonmetal safety and health standards frequently cited in the investigations and grouped them into nine accident categories: falls from elevation, falls of roof and rib, operating mobile equipment (surface and underground), maintenance, lockout/tagout, blocking against motion, and struck by mobile equipment (surface and underground). During the nine-year period, the highest number of coal mine fatalities occurred in West Virginia (94) and Kentucky (78). The highest number of metal/nonmetal mine fatalities occurred in Nevada (26) and Texas (21).

The focused inspections will begin next month. All mine inspectors will receive online training for the program.

"With the full support of the mining industry, 'Rules to Live By' should make great strides in preventing fatal accidents," said Main. National Mining Association CEO Hal Quinn the program, which NMA supports, is taking MSHA in a direction the association has advocated for some time. "NMA's ongoing safety awareness campaigns, which raise mine safety awareness on high-hazard situations, are a good complement to MSHA's initiative," Quinn said. “The last two years have been the safest on record for U.S. mining, but with greater safety awareness and training, advanced technologies, and renewed commitment, we can continue to do more."

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