The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration has announced the results of its monthly special impact inspections from December 2016. During the month, MSHA conducted inspections at 10 coal mines and five metal and nonmetal mines during the month and issued 132 citations. The inspections took place at mines in Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
This is a continuation of MSHA’s monthly impact inspections which started in April 2010. These inspections focus on mines with a poor compliance history or particular compliance issues. In total, MSHA inspectors have conducted 1,270 impact inspections and issued 17,255 citations, 1,331 orders and 62 safeguards since these monthly inspections began.
This continued enforcement effort comes on the heel of MSHA reporting that 2016 had the lowest number of mining deaths on record. For 2016, only 26 miners died in work-related accidents which followed 2015 where only 29 miners died. Out of approximately 330,000 miners working in more than 13,000 U.S. mines, this fatality rate is less than .01%.
Even with the change in Administration, there is no indication that MSHA will pull back on its current schedule of monthly inspections especially in light of the reduction in miner deaths. Thus mine operators and other affected industries must continue to ensure that they are prepared for such inspections and have effective safety and health programs in place that address the specific conditions and hazards.