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What is an MSHA Competent Person?

Stack Of Files

MSHA requires a “competent person” to deliver and sign all Part 46 training and paperwork. But that raises a lot of questions with very few clear answers. What exactly does “Competent Person” mean? Who decides if someone is competent and how? Does our competent person need to be MSHA approved? Does my MSHA competent person need to provide all of our training?

You’ll get an answer below to the most frequently asked Part 46 MSHA competent person questions. And if I don’t answer your question, let me know in the comments. I want this article to be as useful for you as possible.

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“Enhanced” MSHA Rules To Live By Enforcement Announced

MSHA Rules To Live By Enhanced Enforcement

“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.

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MSHA Fines Triple With 1 Awful Tactic (And What To Do About It)

MSHA Fines tricky tactic

How A Few Words Cost Thousands in MSHA Fines

MSHA inspectors are at your mine for one reason: to find violations and write tickets. Once they find a violation, they must determine how they should mark the violation to assess MSHA fines.

One of the major determining factors for marking MSHA fines as “Negligence” or “High Negligence” is how long management knew about a violation without taking action. When I was an MSHA inspector I would always ask “How long has that existed?” when writing a ticket. Many times inspectors will suggest how long a violation existed. Something like, “It looks like that’s been broken for a few years, don’t you think?”

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MSHA Inspector Actions Are Cause For MSHA Regulation Concern

MSHA Expands Jurisdiction - Again

MSHA Inspector Actions and Transfers Are Cause For Industry Concern

I think you’ll agree when I say complying with MSHA regulations is harder than ever. Regulations seem to vary wildly from one inspector to the next. You never know what will happen when an MSHA inspector shows up.

MSHA seems determined to constantly push (and expand) the boundaries of federal regulations.

This week there were serious signs that MSHA will be stepping up their M/NM enforcement even further and is pushing for more jurisdiction – yet again.

MSHA Inspector Crosses The Line

Our expert, Kim Redding, reports that MSHA is attempting to claim jurisdiction over commercial sales yards, even if they don’t have any mining activity. MSHA has no precedent for claiming jurisdiction (more on that later) and has – to our knowledge – never previously attempted to regulate commercial sale yards.

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Quarterly MSHA Training Call

Quarterly MSHA Training Call

Notes on the Q1 Quarterly MSHA Training Call

The Q1 Quarterly MSHA training call was held on April 27th, 2016 and contained quite a few bits of new information. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, Joe Mains opened with an overview of 2015 and looking forward at 2016. Mr. Mains commented that the safest year ever in the U.S. for mine safety and health. He specifically pointed to the drop in silica and respirable dust levels every year since the black lung initiative began.

Mr. Mains also touted the new pattern of violations rules as a success.  When MSHA established the new POV rules in 2010 there were 51 mines that were subject to POV status. In 2016 there was only 1 which didn’t even fully meet the criteria. (I would argue at least some of that drop was companies adjusting to the new rules, but I’ll get into my thoughts in a bit.)

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2015 Was The Safest Year Ever For U.S. Mining Industry

mining industry dump truck

The Mining Industry In The U.S. Just Concluded Its Safest Year Ever

Preliminary statistics released by MSHA the afternoon of Thursday, April 7 show that 2015 was the safest year ever in the U.S. mining industry. This closely mirrors the fatality analysis I conducted earlier this year. Mining deaths are down across the board and have been trending that way for decades.

Mining Industry fatalities since 1977

“In 2015, 28 miners died in mining accidents, down from 45 in 2014,” says Amy Louviere, MSHA’s media contact, in the press release.

But the announcement also released more granular data for 2015 than was previously available. This data allows an in depth analysis of the injury rate and total number of injuries. Ms. Louviere continued:

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High Wall Safety In Surface Mining: The Changing Seasons

High Wall Safety in surface mining - Changing Seasons

High Wall Safety In Surface Mining: The Changing Season

It may not feel like it where you are, but spring is right around the corner. Many operations are about to begin the preparations to start up operations after a long winter. But as the season changes from winter to spring, there may be a hidden danger lurking on your site. High walls become much more unstable and prone to collapse during the spring and fall. High wall safety in surface mining is an essential topic for everyone on a mine this time of year.

What is happening during the fall and spring causing the large increase in high wall and stockpile failures? There are four main causes according to mine safety expert, Kim Redding.

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2015’s Most Cited MSHA Standards (And How To Avoid Them)

The Most Cited MSHA Standards of 2015

How To Avoid The 5 Most Cited MSHA Standards of 2015

Ever finish a Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) inspection with your head spinning? You feel confident when the inspector arrives. Then the notepad comes out. Did the experience leave you with questions? Saying to yourself “How did we get hit for those MSHA standards? We run a good operation. How did we get so many fines?”

Obviously, MSHA citations are costly. But on top of the financial penalty, there are more subtle costs. Unlike money spent on training or workplace safety improvements that can prevent citations, MSHA fines aren’t tax deductible. MSHA citations also cost your company man-hours through additional inspections and time spent contesting the tickets. Finally, S&S citations affect your POV status, which can lead to even more fines if MSHA determines you have a Pattern of Violations.

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MSHA Safety Hazard Alert – Plastic Pipes

MSHA Safety Hazard Alert - Lifting Pipes

MSHA Safety Hazard Alert

Late yesterday afternoon Neal Merrifield distributed yet another MSHA Safety Hazard Alert. He begins:

Since 2008, six persons have died at metal and nonmetal mines in accidents involving large diameter plastic pipe.  Two delivery truck drivers were killed while their flatbed trucks were being unloaded at the mine.  In both cases, an unsecured section of pipe rolled from atop the truck’s load of pipe, fell and struck the driver as he stood nearby.  Two pipe crew supervisors, one a contractor, died while connecting sections of pipe using excavators and lifting straps to support and position the pipes.  One died when the pipe slipped out of the strap and struck him; the other was killed when the pipe sprung out of the positioning cradle and struck him.  A pipe foreman and a contract laborer were killed when they were struck or crushed by the pipe while assisting excavators re-position long sections of pipe using lifting straps.

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MSHA Safety Enforcement Alert Issues Broad Warning

 MSHA Safety Enforcement Update

MSHA Safety Enforcement Alert Announces Vague Initiative

After last week’s serious incident, today brings another MSHA safety enforcement announcement and boy is it broad. MSHA’s M/NM Administrator Neal Merrifield begins the announcement:

Since 2011, 16 metal and nonmetal miners have died in accidents involving machinery and non-haulage mobile and quarry equipment, and many more have been seriously injured or disabled.  Of the 16 persons fatally injured, six were supervisors and three were contractors.  Seven miners died when they were struck by the equipment they or a co-worker were operating, four miners drowned when their equipment ran into or overturned into water, and five more died when they were caught in crushers, on drill steel or between reciprocating machinery.  The equipment involved represented a wide variety of mining equipment: drills, dozers, excavators, graders, dredges and crushers… MSHA plans again this month to continue walk and talks at mine sites and again enlist the partnership of mines, miners and mining industry groups in the effort to raise safety consciousness.

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Essential MSHA Resources

Intro To MSHA Crash Course

The MSHA Compliance rules you -need- to know. Fast!

MSHA Tips For Mine Managers

Exclusive help from a former MSHA Inspector