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, VA.
“While we’ve seen progress in reducing mining deaths associated with both Rules to Live By and the exam rule, mine operators need to conduct better site inspections and take appropriate action to improve compliance with these standards,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “That is why we are increasing attention on these critical standards. We urge the mining industry to do the same.”
An agency analysis of hundreds of U.S. mining fatalities in a 10-year period shows that fatalities associated with Rules to Live By standards have decreased an average of 23 percent, and significant and substantial citations and orders issued for violations of these standards have declined an average of 37 percent.
Fatalities associated with the exam rule have decreased an average of 22 percent, and S&S citations and orders issued for violations of this standard have declined an average of 45 percent.
Beginning July 1, MSHA will employ its web-based Rules to Live By and exam rule calculators more extensively to determine the number of citations and orders issued during the most recent 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.
MSHA launched its Rules to Live By outreach and enforcement initiative in 2010. The agency published its exam rule in 2012.