Almost 200 Citations Issued in MSHA's September Impact Inspections

Federal inspectors issued 192 citations, five orders, and one safeguard during special impact inspections conducted at nine coal and four metal and nonmetal mines in September.

MSHA announced that its federal inspectors issued 192 citations, five orders, and one safeguard during special impact inspections conducted at nine coal and four metal and nonmetal mines in September.

The monthly inspections, which began in force in April 2010 following the death of 29 miners in 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 evidence of a mine's failure to control respirable dust and operator tactics to prevent MSHA from finding violations. The September 2014 impact inspections included the following examples:

MSHA began an impact inspection on Sept. 23 at Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.'s Chino Mines Co. mine in Grant County, N.M. MSHA inspectors issued 38 citations to the mine operator for hazardous conditions, including unguarded belt conveyors that exposed miners to potential injury from entanglement; failure to provide handrails down a flight of steps, exposing miners to slip, trip, and fall hazards; and failure to barricade a tunnel to prevent injury from ground failure while miners were working and cutting in the area directly above the tunnel. Furthermore, a damaged pressure gauge on an acetylene gas cylinder created a potential fire or explosion hazard, and a wet floor in front of an electrical panel created a potential shock hazard.

MSHA also conducted an impact inspection at Solid Fuel Inc.'s Watson Branch Mine in Claiborne County, Tenn., during the first shift on Sept. 24. Enforcement personnel traveled underground and immediately monitored the communications systems to prevent advance notification of the inspection. They entered the mine by walking in the belt conveyor entry to the mining section and issued 25 citations, one order, and one safeguard on the surface area of the mine, the belt conveyors, and the continuous mining machine. This was the first impact inspection at this mine.

Inspectors issued an unwarrantable failure order for combustible material accumulations in the form of loose coal and coal dust in the section for a distance of 180 feet. In addition, another unwarrantable failure citation was issued for combustible material accumulations at eight locations along and under a section of conveyor belt for a distance of approximately 720 feet.

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