In a report issued on March 31, the Deptartment of Labor’s Inspector General concluded that the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is making "significant progress" in reforming its own operations after a series of reports found enforcement problems in the aftermath of the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster in West Virginina that left 29 miners dead. But the report also says the agency can do more to ensure that problems are being corrected.
At issue are a pair of reports released early last year that focused on MSHA's role leading up to the Upper Big Branch explostion, the most deadly mine accident in the United States in four decades. An internal review found "significant shortcomings" within the agency. Another independent probe said MSHA downplayed its own culpability. The new report says MSHA had already been taking actions to address gaps in mine safety oversight, including tougher coal dust standards to prevent explosions and an enhanced inspection regime. The audit was requested by House Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN).
The IG concludes by asking MSHA to "build a process into its internal review framework to rank and prioritize recommendations [and] continue work on those recommendations that do not currently have anticipated due dates to ensure they are being diligently pursued."
The agency has issued more than 10,000 citations since the special impact inspections began in April 2010.