“Enhanced” MSHA Rules To Live By Enforcement Begins July 1st, Will Affect Both Operators and Contractors
In a press release distributed on June 26th, MSHA announced “Enhanced” enforcement of its MSHA Rules To Live By standards.
MSHA’s news release states:
On July 1, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration will begin enhanced enforcement of “Rules to Live By,” its initiative of standards commonly cited following mine deaths, and nine underground coal mine exam rule standards focused on the greatest risks to miners in underground coal mines.
While 2015 was the safest year ever for mining in the US, it appears Joe Mains is determined for one final push during the last few months of his tenure.
In the announcement of this push, Joe Mains states:
We will more extensively employ our web-based calculators on Rules to Live By and the exam rule to determine the number of respective citations and orders issued during the most recently completed inspection periods for which data are available. Inspectors will provide mine operators with a copy of the results, encouraging them to use the tools to monitor their own compliance and take action to eliminate violations. The results will be added to criteria for consideration of impact inspections, particularly targeting mines with elevated noncompliance of these standards.
You know what that means…
Enforcement initiatives are nothing new with this administration. But there are signs that this might be especially far reaching with large numbers of coal inspectors potentially flooding the M/NM sector.
“Since the [MSHA Rules To Live By] programs began, MSHA has issued more than 45,000 “significant and substantial” citations and orders for violations of Rules to Live By standards. More than 15,000 citations and orders were issued for violations of exam rule standards since implementation of the rule. These represent violations MSHA has cited during mine inspections on critical, frequent hazards that cause or contribute to fatal mining accidents. Mine operators need to conduct site examinations to find and fix conditions and hazards if miners are to be better protected,” said Mains.
That number is bound to climb steeply in the coming weeks.
Prepare Your Operation and Contractors For “Enhanced” MSHA Rules To Live By Enforcement
Go over your operation with a fine-toothed comb, obviously with a heavy focus on the Rules To Live By Enforcement Standards. Here is a link to the MSHA Rules To Live By standards. And here is an MSHA document outlining what inspectors look for when focusing on Rules To Live By standards.
But you should also go through your paperwork. Make sure you have the fully completed New Miner training certificate for every employee. Make sure every employee is task trained for every job they conduct and tool they use to complete their work.
If you have any contractors working on site make sure they’re informed. I’d recommend doing an audit on their MSHA compliance yourself. That way if you find anything, they have time to correct the issue before MSHA shows up.
Dedicate significant time to this audit. A thorough self-inspection could save you a lot of time and money down the road.
And if MSHA does show up at your operation watch out for the tricky tactic I wrote about last week that some MSHA inspectors use to triple MSHA fines.
What Else Can You Do?
Forward this information to your colleagues. Everyone needs as much time as possible to audit their operations and get prepared.
Here is the entire press release:
MSHA launches enhanced Rules To Live By enforcement to encourage better examinations by industry’s operators
ARLINGTON, Va. – On July 1, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration will begin enhanced enforcement of “Rules to Live By,” its initiative of standards commonly cited following mine deaths, and nine underground coal mine exam rule standards focused on the greatest risks to miners in underground coal mines. The agency announced these measures on May 12, 2016, at a mining industry stakeholder meeting in Arlington.