MSHA inspection ‘blitz’ finds hundreds of problems

This just in from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, along with a chart that lists the mines covered by the inspection sweep and the numbers of violations found at each:<

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration today announced that six underground coal mines in Kentucky received numerous citations and closure orders by federal inspectors as a result of the nationwide impact inspections that took place last month. Each of these operations was forced to suspend production until the violations were corrected. Fifty-seven underground coal mines were targeted for these impact inspections, and each was selected based on its history of significant and/or repeat violations of safety standards concerning methane, mine ventilation and rock dusting. In addition, two of the six Kentucky mines since have been sued by the Labor Department for illegally providing advance notice of a federal inspector’s presence on mine property.

Two hundred thirty-eight citations, 55 orders and one safeguard were issued to these six mines. In total, MSHA inspectors issued 109 withdrawal/failure to abate orders, 1,339 citations and six safeguards nationwide during the five-day inspection blitz that occurred April 19 to 23.

“After last month’s tragic reminder of the consequences of failing to make safety a priority, it is appalling that these operations continued to flout fundamental safety and health standards,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “At the very least, they have failed to conduct their own mine examinations for hazards. Mine operators have a responsibility to provide for the safety and health of the miners they employ, and too many of the mines we inspected are failing to take that responsibility seriously.”

The six mines in Kentucky that ceased production are D&C Mining Corp.; Straight Creek #1 Mine, Left Fork Mining Co. Inc.; RB#12, Manalapan Mining Co.; Mine #1, Conshor Mining; Butcher Branch, Red Bird Coal Co.; and Mine #1, Cawood Enterprises LLC. The orders have been terminated at five of the six mines. Conshor Mining abated its orders but shut down production. Red Bird Coal Co. chose to shut down its own operations rather than comply with the citations and orders it was issued. (See below for a list of withdrawal and failure to abate orders.)

In addition, two mines are facing additional legal consequences for actions they took relating to the inspections. On April 27, the Labor Department filed a lawsuit against Manalapan Mining Co. and Left Fork Mining Co. to prohibit them from interfering with MSHA in carrying out its duties under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. On April 19, MSHA inspectors arrived at these two operations to conduct inspections. They immediately informed mine personnel that persons working underground should not be given advance notice that an inspection party was present on the surface. However, these instructions were ignored. In each case, MSHA inspectors monitoring phone lines heard the advance notice. The Mine Act is clear that “no advance notice of an inspection shall be provided to any person.”

D&C Mining Corp. (50 total issuances – 43 citations, seven orders)

One 75.1714-(4) (b) person underground with no training for self rescue device/Terminated

One 75.1106-(3)(a)(2) compressed gas cylinder(s) not secured /Terminated

One 75.364(a) withdrawal order issued /Terminated

Two 75.400 accumulation citation not abated 104-b order issued/Terminated

One 75.202(a) unsafe roof/rib not abated 104-b order issued / Terminated

Straight Creek #1 Mine, Left Fork Mining Co. (78 total issuances – 65 citations, 13 orders)

Two 75.362(b) inadequate examination withdrawal order/Terminated

Eight 75.400 withdrawal orders for accumulations of combustible materials/Terminated

RB#12, Manalapan Mining Co. (25 total issuances – 19 citations, six orders)

Three 75.202(a), 75.202(b), 75.220(a)(1) withdrawal orders for roof control violations/Terminated

Two 75.400 withdrawal orders for accumulations of combustible material/Terminated

One 75.364(a)(1) citation issued and not abated for failure to conduct a weekly examination/Terminated

Mine #1, Conshor Mining LLC. (35 total issuances – 32 citations, two orders, one safeguard)

One 75.370(a)(1) 104(d)(1) citation for violation of the approved ventilation plan/Terminated

Two 75.400 withdrawal orders for accumulations of combustible material/Terminated

Butcher Branch, Red Bird Coal Co. (58 total issuances – 35 citations and 23 orders)

One 75.400 104-d-1 citation for accumulations of combustible material/Not terminated

One 75.400 withdrawal order for accumulations of combustible material/Not terminated

One 75.364(a)(1) withdrawal order for failure to examine a worked out area of the mine/Not terminated

Mine #1, Cawood Enterprises LLC. (48 total issuances – 44 citations, four orders)

One 75.400 104-d citation for accumulations of combustible material/Terminated

One 75.364(a)(2) withdrawal order for failure to examine bleeder system every seven days/Terminated

One 75.360(c)(1) withdrawal order for failure to take or record air reading every seven days on intake split/Terminated

Two 75.362(b) withdrawal orders for failure to examine for hazardous conditions along a belt conveyor each shift coal is produced/Terminated

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2 Responses to MSHA inspection ‘blitz’ finds hundreds of problems

  1. Mike G says:

    Let us hope some real enforcement and actions come from these inspections. All too often, it seems to have been the case that any such real action doesn’t happen once the initial media attention goes away.

    That some companies elect to close down a mining operation instead of making certain that the working conditions for the miners is as safe as it can be—-all the companies are worried about is maximizing profit and they would rather not have to spend what is necessary to make things safe in the mines for their workers—but they tell the miners that is the fault of the meddlesome government and the efforts of “the GD treehuggers that caused ya’all to have lost your jobs, not that we did anything wrong!!”

  2. Walt says:

    What do you know about real enforcement? You talk a big game, going on and on about real enforcement, but have you really read any of the violations? Between the state and federal agencies there are thousands of rules to follow . When a violation is written the inspector will determine if it should be classified as an S&S. According to MSHA only one third of the violations written are S&S.

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