Mining Inspectors Zero In On Workplace Safety

 

Mining inspectors in Ontario are focusing in on diesel emissions and other hazards that could affect air quality during a blitz in underground mines.
 
As part of the province’s Safe at Work Ontario strategy, which was unveiled four and a half years ago, Ministry of Labor inspectors are making sure that employers are complying with recent changes to emission requirements for diesel-powered equipment under the Regulations for Mines and Mining Plants.
 
Officials believe the changes improve protection for workers from the potentially harmful effects of diesel emissions by:
 
     Setting a lower allowed limit of carbon exposure for workers and
     Requiring equipment be tested under consistent conditions
 
The changes went into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.
 
 
Illness and Death Result from Poor Air Quality
 
Poor air quality in underground mines can lead to occupational illness and death of workers. In particular, workers are at risk in the event they are exposed to carbon monoxide in diesel exhaust.
 
Underground mines can have poor air quality when:
 
     There are too many "particulate particles" (a mixture of various chemical solids and gasses including carbon and nitrous oxide) and other airborne substances such as dust in the air and/or when
     Fumes emitted by diesel-powered equipment are over the prescribed limits
 
To protect workers, the new amendments require employers to:
 
     Perform routine testing to determine the carbon monoxide content of exhaust from diesel-powered equipment under consistent conditions
     Develop and implement testing measures and procedures for diesel-powered equipment, in consultation with the mine's Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) or health and safety representative
     Provide test results, as required, to the JHSC or health and safety representative
     Investigate overexposure by workers to diesel emissions and take remedial action, if possible, to prevent future incidents
 
The mining regulations are part of Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
 
 
Inspectors Focus in on Diesel Equipment
 
Inspectors will target underground mines that use diesel equipment, including:
 
     Mines with large fleets of diesel equipment operating in the underground environment
     Recently reopened or new mines operating diesel equipment
     Mines where previous ventilation concerns were observed, and
     Mines with a poor health and safety compliance history
 
Inspectors will check on two types of equipment:
 
     Diesel equipment used for underground transportation of workers and materials and blasting of rock and
     Ventilation systems used to deliver fresh air to underground mines
 
Lastly, mining inspectors will zero in on the top priorities:
 
Committee Consultation: Inspectors will check that employers have developed and implemented testing measures and procedures for each piece of diesel equipment, in consultation with the JHSC or health and safety representative.
 
Diesel Equipment: Inspectors will check that equipment used for underground transportation of workers and materials is being regularly tested, as required.
 
Workplace Air Sampling: Inspectors will check that employers are regularly testing the air in underground mines to ensure exposure to toxic airborne substances do not exceed the prescribed limits.
 
 
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.
 
©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

Miners Speaking Up About Their Safety Are Unjustly Losing Their Jobs

 

More Discrimination Requests Than Any Other Year
 
The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) recently reported that it had filed 39 requests during fiscal year 2012, more than in any other year, with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission for temporary reinstatements on behalf of miners who submitted complaints of discrimination in the form of a suspension, layoff, discharge or other adverse action.
 
From October 2009 through September 2012, the department filed 79 temporary reinstatement requests – an average of 26 per year – compared to an average of seven per year from October 1993 to September 2009. Additionally, the department filed a total of 84 discrimination complaints with the commission during the same period, compared to 28 during the three prior years combined.
 
 
Miner Can Not Be Dismissed for Safety
 
According to Section 105(c) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, a miner cannot be discharged, discriminated against or interfered with in the exercise of statutory rights because he or she has engaged in a protected activity such as filing a complaint alleging a health or safety violation, or refusing to work under unsafe or unhealthy conditions.
 
"MSHA strongly encourages miners to exercise their rights under the Mine Act and maximize their involvement in monitoring safety and health conditions," said Joseph Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "In turn, we will vigorously investigate all discrimination complaints."
 
If MSHA finds that a miner's complaint is "not frivolously brought," the agency, at the request of the miner, will ask the commission to order immediate reinstatement for the miner.
 
 
Fears Came to Light In Wake of Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster
 
Issues relating to fears of discrimination and retaliation came to light during congressional hearings held in the wake of the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster. Statements from miners and family members of the miners who died indicated that mine employees had been reluctant to speak out about safety conditions in existence prior to the April 2010 explosion, fearing retaliation by management. Testimony from UBB employees presented during MSHA's investigation also supports those claims.
 
 
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com
 
©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

Shockingly Low Fine From Three Work Related Deaths

 

Potential Fine was $750,000
 
The $46,000 fine imposed on VLI Drilling in Greymouth, New Zealand recently for its failures at the Pike River mine is shockingly low, says the miners' union, the EPMU.
 
The company faced a potential fine of $750,000 over three charges relating to its failure to take all practicable steps to protect its employees' health and safety at the mine.
 
VLI, a subsidiary of Sydney-based Valley Longwall International, had Josh Ufer, 25, Ben Rockhouse, 21, and Joseph Dunbar, 17, down the mine at the time of the fatal explosion on November 19, 2010. It was Joseph Dunbar's first day at work.
 
 
Low Fine Sends the Wrong Signal
 
EPMU Director of Organizing Alan Clarence says the shockingly low fine sends the wrong signal.
 
"The EPMU shares the concerns of the Pike River families over the low level of the fine. This sends the wrong message to companies looking to cut corners on health and safety and is particularly concerning given the loss of life at the mine,” said Clarence. "VLI essentially contracted out its health and safety checks to Pike River, abdicating its most basic responsibilities as an employer. This is what happens when companies try to devolve their responsibility to provide a safe workplace by contracting out, and the result is New Zealand's unacceptably high rate of workplace deaths and injuries.
 
 
Government Needs To Ensure Proper Safety
 
Clarence added that the Government needs to ensure this kind of employment practice is not allowed again.
 
“It can do this by introducing worker-elected check inspectors to ensure safety checks are being done, and by strengthening the law to ensure companies cannot contract out of their health and safety responsibilities,” stated Clarence.
 
The EPMU is a democratic union representing 40,000 working New Zealanders across 11 industries.
 
 
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.
 
©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

Mine Safety and Health Administration Proposes 594,000 in Fines

 

The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has proposed $594,100 in fines to Manalapan Mining Co. Inc.'s P-1 Mine in Harlan County, Ky., for four violations.
 
The proposed penalties were assessed as a result of an investigation into the June 2011 death of a miner who was fatally injured when a large section of rock fell from the underground coal mines wall, or rib, and knocked him into a dolly.
 
Although there were no witnesses to the accident, federal accident investigators believe that the continuous haulage system backed up during the mining process, causing the dolly to move along the conveyer belt structure and drag the victim, David Partin, from beneath the fallen material.
 
MSHA determined that the accident occurred because the mine operator failed to support or control the ribs to protect the miner on one of its mechanized mining units, or MMUs. Additionally, the operator failed to conduct adequate pre-shift and on-shift examinations, and ignored the hazardous rib conditions on the MMU. Finally, the operator failed to revise and upgrade the roof control plan to address changing geological conditions that had occurred on the MMU.
 
The agency has proposed penalties for one violation at $70,000 and three flagrant violations at $174,700 each. A flagrant violation is defined as a reckless or repeated failure to make reasonable efforts to eliminate a known violation of a mandatory safety and health standard that substantially and proximately caused, or reasonably could have been expected to cause, death or serious bodily injury. Flagrant violations, which were established under the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006, may be assessed a maximum civil penalty of $220,000 each.
 
"Dozens of miners are injured by rib and roof falls every year and, tragically, some are killed," said Joseph Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "The accident investigation found that, had the mine operator properly secured the mine's ribs and revised its roof control plan to address changing geologic conditions, this tragedy might have been averted."
 
Last month, MSHA launched its annual Preventive Roof Rib Outreach Program, an educational initiative designed to alert miners and mine operators about the dangers of roof and rib falls, as well as the methods for thoroughly checking and addressing hazardous roof and rib conditions.
 
The mine operator has contested all of the violations related to the June 2011 fatality.
 
 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 

 


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©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Maximum Fine Imposed for Workers Death, Company Implements Major Safety Changes

 

Pleaded Guilty to Safety Violation

 

A potash surface mine operator in Saskatchewan has pleaded guilty to the province’s maximum fine for an occupational health and safety violation, in connection with a worker fatality two years ago, according to a report from Canadian OH&S News.

 

Edward Artic, who had worked at Agrium Inc’s Vanscoy site for more than 10 years, was inside a hoist well when a component fell from a load being lifted by an overhead crane. The device fell six stories and struck the 59-year-old worker in the head, killing him instantly.[Wcx]

 

Agrium pleaded guilty on May 28 to failing to provide or maintain a working environment that ensured, as far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of a worker, contrary to Section 12(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, and agreed to the maximum fine of $300,000 plus a $120,000 victim surcharge. Three other charges against Agrium were stayed.

 

Maximum Fine Sought

 

Tamara Harrison, the crown prosecutor assigned to the case, explained that a maximum fine was sought because the incident resulted in a fatality, Agrium had a previous similar conviction — in 2006 a rock fell and a worker received a serious injury — and judges specifically allow prosecutors to look at the fact that because the accused is a large, profitable company, the fine must be high enough to have a deterrent effect.

 

Agrium’s lawyer says it was important for the company to move forward out of respect for the family, adding there is a good working relationship between Agrium and the family, “who didn’t want to see this worker’s death in vain.” [Wcx]

 

The company recognized that anything you can do could be done better. There is always a constellation of factors that contribute to the cause of the accident,” and Agrium was one of those factors, says Michael Tochor of MacPherson Leslie & Tyerman LLP, in Regina.

 

Major Reform Efforts Implemented

 

Since the incident the company has spent $3.6 million on remedial measures at the site, just southwest of Saskatoon, Tochor notes. This includes redesigning and retrofitting the entire hoist well, rewriting and reworking health and safety policies and procedures, providing financial assistance to the family and counseling for workers and constructing a memorial tribute to Artic on the site.

 

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety recently introduced amendments that would bump the maximum penalty in cases with a serious injury or death from $300,000 to $1.5 million, making them the highest in the country. The amendments would take effect this fall

 

 

<pAuthor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

 

 


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MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

MSHA Unveils Numbers from Mine Safety Sweeps

The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) recently announced that federal inspectors issued 253 citations, orders and safeguards during special impact inspections conducted at 12 coal mines and four metal/nonmetal mines last month. The coal mines were issued 171 citations, 15 orders and two safeguards, while the metal/nonmetal operations were issued 64 citations and one order.

 
 
These inspections, which began in force 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; 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. [WCx]
 
 
As an example, an impact inspection was conducted during the second shift at Perry County Coal Corp.'s E4-1 Mine in Perry County, Ky. The inspection team, which captured and monitored the phones to prevent advance notice of its arrival, issued 35 citations and three orders. The mine's last impact inspection resulted in 27 citations and one order.
 
 
 
The mine was issued unwarrantable failure orders for noncompliance with the ventilation plan by failing to maintain a sufficient air volume at the end of the wing curtain when more than 18 inches of rock is being mined. (A wing curtain is a piece of flame-resistant brattice cloth used to direct air current to temporarily ventilate faces, seals or other areas of the mine.) This violation exposed miners to the risk of silicosis, black lung, and a potential explosion.
 
 
 
The mine operator also failed to control draw rock that extended from 32 crosscuts outby to the working face (approximately 2,080 feet), which exposed miners to the risk of being struck, injured or killed by pieces of falling roof. The mine operator further failed to maintain a scoop in permissible condition so that it was not a potential ignition source for explosive gases as well as to conduct an adequate weekly examination of the same scoop.
 
 
 
Inspectors also found that the primary and secondary escape ways, along with required lifelines, were improperly maintained, which could severely hamper miners' efforts to evacuate the mine in the event of an emergency.
 
 
 
As a second example MSHA conducted an impact inspection during the second shift at K and D Mining Inc.'s Mine No. 17 in Harlan County, Ky. The inspection team, which captured and monitored the mine phones, issued 21 citations and seven orders. The last impact inspection conducted at this mine resulted in 14 citations and six orders.
 
 
 
During the most recent visit, inspectors observed eight conditions that were the result of unwarrantable failures by the mine operator. Six involved failure to maintain the conveyer belts in safe operating condition and accumulation of combustible materials along the belt lines. Two belt lines were found to have missing or stuck rollers, causing friction and creating the potential for an ignition. Accumulations of combustible material were found along three belt lines, which are required to be examined at each shift.[WCx]
 
 
 
Two 104(d) withdrawal orders were issued for the mine operator's failure to conduct an adequate exam of the section power center, which was found to be improperly maintained. Inspectors found evidence of severe arcing between receptacles on the power center, as well as on the male plugs of electrical equipment.
 
 
 
The mine operator also failed to comply with the roof control plan, according to inspectors. They observed a hill seam (rock fissure) that was tied in with several stress cracks. Inspectors also said the hill seam and stress cracks extended across the pillar line for a distance of approximately 115 feet. The mine operator had not installed additional support as required by the roof control plan.
 
 
 
"While the impact inspection program has resulted in improved compliance in mines across the country, the seriousness of the violations found at these two operations demonstrates why targeted enforcement continues to be necessary to protect the health and safety of miners," said Joseph Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. [WCx]
 
 
 
Since April 2010, MSHA has conducted 403 impact inspections, which have resulted in a total of 7,162 citations, 718 orders, and 26 safeguards.
 
 

Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He is an editor and contributor to Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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Mine Safety MSHA Reports Results for Impact Inspections

The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration recently announced that federal inspectors issued 374 citations, orders and safeguards during special impact inspections conducted at 18 coal mines and two metal/nonmetal mines last month.

 
 
According to the agency’s report, the coal mines were issued 292 citations, 28 orders and one safeguard, while the metal/nonmetal operations were issued 52 citations and one order.(WCxKit)
 
 
Special impact inspections, which began in force in 2010 following the explosion at 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 recent inspections, an impact inspection was conducted during the second shift at D & C Mining Corp.'s underground coal mine in Harlan County, Ky. Inspectors arrived at the mine and immediately captured and monitored the mine phone to prevent advance notification of their presence. The inspection resulted in seven 104(d)(2) withdrawal orders, one 107(a) imminent danger order and 11 104(a) citations, of which 16 were designated significant and substantial.
 
 
The imminent danger order was issued when the inspection team found a cigarette lighter near the continuous mining machine, marking the second time this year that smoking articles were found underground at this mine. This condition provided an ignition source in the presence of combustible materials, loose coal and coal dust accumulations in an area with inadequate rock dust to prevent an explosion. The impact inspection was the sixth conducted at the mine since April 2010.
 
 
Inspectors wrote two of the withdrawal orders for inadequate roof and rib supports at the face area of the mine where miners normally work and travel during their shift. Violations included loose, unsupported draw rock, as well as wide roof and rib bolt spacing, all of which created the potential for roof and rib collapses.
 
 
Additionally, inspectors found inadequate rock dusting, use of a non-permissible cap lamp, accumulations of combustible material, an inadequate smoke search program, inadequate pre-shift examinations, improperly working parking brakes on mobile equipment, nonworking self-contained self-rescuer units, a poorly maintained roof drill dust collection system and inadequate illumination on the mine surface areas.
 
 
"The closure order is still one of the most effective tools inspectors have to bring about compliance, even during impact inspections," said Joseph Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "We will not hesitate to use this and other enforcement tools to protect the nation's miners."
 
 
As a second example, MSHA conducted an impact inspection Sept. 12 to 16 at Robinson Nevada Mining Co.'s Robinson Operation, a large surface copper mine located in White Pine County, Nev. MSHA issued 34 citations during the inspection, including 25 citations to the mine operator and nine to independent contractors working on mine property.
 
 
Among the hazards inspectors cited were inadequate testing of electrical grounding systems, and unattended pieces of mobile equipment that were left with engines running and parked on a grade without properly blocking the wheels. In addition, approximately 30 compressed gas cylinders were stored without caps to prevent injury to the valves which, if damaged, could pose an explosion risk. Inspectors also found an open excavation hole that was not supported to prevent material from falling onto workers.(WCxKit)

 
 
Since April 2010, MSHA has conducted 347 impact inspections, which have resulted in 6,187 citations, 584 orders and 22 safeguards.
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 

Our WORKERS COMP BOOK:  www.WCManual.com
 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact

Mine Owners Must Provide Required Audit Records

Two employers, Massey Energy and Peabody Energy were ordered to produce audit records requested by the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (DLMSH) by Administrative Law Judge Kenneth Andrews with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review.
 
 
According to the department, the cases concern the refusal of the controlling companies to provide accident, injury, and illness data during audits conducted by MSHA between October and December 2010. These audits were conducted in an effort to determine if specific mines met the criteria making them eligible to receive notifications of a potential pattern of violations. Eight mines were named for refusing to come forward with the necessary records. (WCxKit)
 
 
In the Peabody case, Andrews agreed with MSHA that the agency has a right to review records maintained by the operator that are "relevant and necessary" to determine compliance with accident, injury, and illness reporting requirements. He rejected the operator's argument to withhold the records based on their "sensitive and private" nature. In so doing, he concluded that such a disclosure to a public health agency such as MSHA is a "reasonable exercise of government responsibility" and that MSHA's "interest in promoting mine safety far outweighs any interest the mine operators may have in privacy."
 
 
The pair of mines in the Peabody Energy suit are Big Ridge, Inc.'s, Willow Lake Portal and Peabody Midwest Mining LLC's Air Quality #1 Mine. However, Willow Lake Portal previously was placed on potential POV status due to injuries it had properly reported and successfully reduced its violations during the evaluation period.
 
 
In the Massey case, MSHA argued that the role of 30 Code of Federal Regulations Part 50 in advancing miner safety and health cannot be overstated, as it identifies the aspects of mining requiring intensified attention with respect to health and safety legislation. Part 50 regulations cover the primary reporting and record-keeping obligations for mine operators, including as these relate to accidents, injuries, illnesses, and quarterly employment.
 
 
The six mines in the Massey Energy suit are Independence Coal Co., Inc.'s, Justice # 1 Mine, Inman Energy Corp.'s Randolph Mine, Process Energy's Mine # 1, Spartan Mining Co.'s Road Fork # 51, Road Fork Development Co.'s Love Branch South Mine and Knox Creek Coal Corp.'s Coal Creek Prep Plant. The judge's decisions affirm the violations and orders that MSHA issued to the operators for their failure to provide the requested records.
 
 
"This move has unnecessarily delayed MSHA's review of the POV process for seven of these mines," said Joseph Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "Mine operators should be aware that we are not going to rely on what they report to make such critical determinations. We will check those records ourselves." (WCxKit)
 
 
Of the 32 mines where audits were completed, MSHA issued more than 100 citations for irregularities in reporting and/or record keeping. As a result of those findings, Maple Coal Co.'s Maple Eagle No. 1 Mine was moved to potential POV status. The mine operation initially was not flagged as a candidate for a potential POV due to under-reporting of injuries. The subsequent audit discovered 12 unreported or under-reported injuries and 241 unreported lost workdays.
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

Our WORKERS COMP BOOK: www.WCManual.com
 
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Mine Safety Overview

The one year anniversary of the West Virginia Upper Big Branch mine tragedy of April 5, 2010, where 29 miners lost their lives, is an appropriate time for a review of mine safety. While mines are much safer today than they were 25, 50 or 100 years ago, they are still a dangerous business. The 29 miners who died in the Upper Big Branch explosion was the worst mining tragedy in the United States since 1970 when 38 miners did in an explosion at the Finley Coal Co. in Kentucky. 
 
 
The workers compensation claims arising from injuries, illnesses and death among miners are often substantial in size. This results in miners having some of the highest rates for workers compensation premiums. Mine safety improvements, with the resulting reduction in the number of injuries and the seriousness of the injuries that do occur, is the best way for mine companies to reduce their cost of workers compensation. (WCxKit)
 
 
Mine safety is so important that the United Stated Department of Labor has a division dedicated to the safe operation of mines, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). MSHA was created in 1977 by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act. Like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that regulates most industries, MSHA is responsible for the regulation of mines and mine operators. The goals of MSHA include the prevention or reduction of injuries, illnesses and death in mines and due to working in mines. 
 
 
The primary goals of MHSA are to improve the safety and health of all miners. To accomplish this, MHSA strives:
 
1.      to develop safety rules for mines
 
2.      to develop health rules for mines
 
3.      to enforce the safety and health rules
 
4.      to provide technical assistance to mines
 
5.      to provide educational assistance to mines
 
6.      to assist mine operators with compliance to the rules and regulations
 
 
There are two divisions of MHSA, The Coal Mine Safety and Health and The Metal and Non-metal Mine Safety and Health. The Coal Mine Safety and Health division oversees inspections, investigations and training for coal mines, while The Metal and Non-metal Mine Safety and Health divisions provides the same functions for all mines other than coal mines.
 
 
While there are many hazards that miners must contend with, the most dangerous hazards include:
 
1.      Explosions – Coal dust can cause violent explosions. Methane gas is another common source of explosions in mines
 
2.      Hazardous gases – Various gases that can develop in the mining process can cause asphyxiation
 
3.      High temperatures & humidity can cause heat stroke
 
4.      Dusts – Miners who are exposed to dust develop lung problems like pneumoconiosis and silicosis
 
5.      Hearing Loss – The mining equipment used to cut through coal and other hard surfaces can create a high decibel level which is amplified by the enclosed area
 
6.      Cave-ins – The tunnels and caverns dug underneath the ground can collapse due to the weight of materials above
 
 
The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act combined the prior regulations that were in force prior to 1977. it requires the same degree of safety in non-coal mines as were previously in place for coal mines, and it also streamlined the oversight process for mines. Among the provisions in the Mine Act were:
 
1.      all underground mines to be inspected by MSHA at least four times a year
 
2.      all surface mines to be inspected by MSHA at least twice a year
 
3.      strengthening of the existing mine safety laws
 
4.      the issuance of regulations to control safety
 
5.      civil penalties for mine companies that violated the MSHA rules and regulations
 
6.      education and training of miners and management in mine safety
 
 
There are numerous ways the mine operators and the miners can work together to reduce the risk of injuries and illnesses from working in mines. Some of the more successful approaches to reducing the risk of injuries and illnesses include:
 
1.      requiring all new miners to have basic safety and health training before they ever enter a mine
 
2.      refresher training each year for all miners
 
3.      specific task training for miners who change jobs within the mine
 
4.      motivation of miners to perform their job duties in a safe manner
 
5.      training – providing skills and knowledge – on how to safely perform their jobs
 
6.      mine rescue training
 
 
In addition to the above approaches to reducing risk in mines, there are numerous training materials available from the MSHA on various subjects including:
 
1.      ventilation procedures for underground mines
 
2.      how to prevent the ignition or explosion of gases or dust
 
3.      how to prevent fire
 
4.      how to prevent flooding
 
5.      how to prevent suffocation due to oxygen deficient air
 
6.      how to prevent hydrogen sulfide gas
 
7.      conveyor belt fire prevention
 
8.      high pressure hosing
 
9.      proper maintenance and use of mine elevators (WCxKit)
 
 
Mine safety not only reduces the cost of workers compensation, it reduces the cost of repairs to both the equipment and the mine. Mine safety is a win-win situation for both the employees and the mine operators.
 
 
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.
 
 
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Mine Safety Agency Issues Withdrawal Orders at Kentucky Mine

The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued 10 withdrawal orders at Bledsoe Coal Corp.'s Abner Branch Rider Mine; just one month after the Leslie County, Ky., operation received a notice of a pattern of violations. These orders mark an unprecedented use by the agency of an enforcement action under Section 104(e) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977.
 
 
Under Section 104(e) of the Mine Act, a mining operation on a POV is subject to a withdrawal order each time MSHA issues a significant and substantial, known as an S&S, violation.open-ended The order remains in place until the violation is abated. An operator can be removed from POV status only after undergoing a complete inspection without receiving an S&S violation. (WCxKit)
 
 
"I've said time and again that MSHA will use all the tools at its disposal to prevent accidents, illnesses and injuries in the nation's mines," said Joseph Main, assistant labor secretary for mine safety and health. "Mine operators must be held accountable, and we will make sure that those who persistently violate safety and health laws are subject to this enforcement action."
 
 
The 10 withdrawal orders include two issued on May 3 because the mine roof was not adequately supported to prevent a potential roof fall. To terminate the order, the mine operator scaled the loose draw rock and installed cap blocks and wedges over the bearing plates to support the mine roof. Two miners were withdrawn from the mine until the conditions were corrected.
 
 
Of the remaining orders, three were issued on May 10 for inadequate ventilation controls and inadequate roof, rib and face support, causing the withdrawal of more than 30 miners working over three shifts. Inspectors found that ventilation controls between the secondary escape way and the belt entry had become damaged and difficult to open.
 
 
The order related to inadequate ventilation controls was terminated the following day when the operator installed a pressure relief slider in the personnel door and made modifications to enable the doors to easily open. Inspectors found large slabs of material measuring approximately 5 feet in height, 12 feet in length and 4 to 8 inches in thickness, as well as the presence of a crack 2 to 4 inches behind the rib material. open-ended. The order related to inadequate rib support was terminated the following day when the unsafe ribs were wrapped with banding material and 1- by 6- inch boards.
 
 
The New West Virginia Mining Co.'s Apache Mine in McDowell County, W.Va., also received a POV notice; however, the mining operation is currentli idle.
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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