MSHA Announces Results of July Impact Inspections

Coal mines were issued 232 citations and 24 orders, while metal/nonmetal operations were issued 108 citations and 11 orders.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration recently announced that federal inspectors issued 375 citations and orders during special impact inspections conducted at 10 coal mines and five metal/nonmetal mines in July. The coal mines were issued 232 citations and 24 orders, while the metal/nonmetal operations were issued 108 citations and 11 orders.

Special impact inspections, which began in force in April 2010 following the explosion at the 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.

As an example from last month's impact inspections, on July 22, MSHA inspectors arrived during the second shift at Wilcoal Mining Inc.'s Tri-State One Mine located in Claiborne County, Tenn. The inspection party immediately seized and monitored communications at the mine to prevent advance notification. More than two-thirds of 32 citations and orders issued were designated as significant and substantial. The impact inspection was the sixth conducted at this mine.

MSHA issued eight unwarrantable failure closure orders for conditions that presented serious hazards in the event of a fire, explosion, or other emergency that could prevent miners from safely exiting the mine. The operator was cited for failure to maintain a primary escapeway for safe travel due to the presence of lumber, other debris, and water up to 10 inches in depth; inadequate pre-shift examinations; failure to conduct a proper electrical examination; use of a water pump without a fail-safe ground system in the primary escapeway; not providing the required number of self-contained self-rescuers at the section storage location as well as two-way communications for one of the mine's refuge alternatives on the active section; and inadequate ventilation.

Tri-State One Mine was one of 13 operations to receive a letter from MSHA in November 2010 that placed it on notice of a potential pattern of violations of mandatory health or safety standards under Section 104(e) of the federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977.

Since April 2010, MSHA has conducted 307 impact inspections, which have resulted in 5,526 citations, 518 orders and 19 safeguards.

View a spreadsheet containing the results of the July 2011 impact inspections.

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