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MSHA ramps up focus on ‘Rules to Live By’ initiative, Exam Rule standards

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Photo: Mine Safety and Health Administration

Arlington, VA – Beginning July 1, the Mine Safety and Health Administration will increase enforcement of its Rules to Live By initiative, as well as the nine common standards that fall under the agency’s Exam Rule, the agency announced during a May 12 stakeholder meeting.

“Rules to Live By” focuses on the standards most often cited in fatal mining incidents – 28 standards that apply to coal mines and 19 standards for metal and non-metal mines.

MSHA said it will use more extensively its online Rules to Live By calculator and Exam Rule calculator to determine the number of citations and orders issued during recent inspection periods.

“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,” MSHA stated. “The results will be added to criteria for consideration of impact inspections, particularly targeting mines with elevated noncompliance of these standards.”

The agency is adding two standards to the fourth of its Rules to Live By: Preventing Common Mining Deaths – one for safe lighting of surface work areas in coal mines, and another for protection from falling materials in metal and non-metal mines.

On average, deaths related to Rules to Live By standards have dropped 23 percent since the initiative began in 2010, and significant and substantial citations and orders issued for violations of related standards have decreased 37 percent, MSHA states. Still, more than 45,000 “significant and substantial” citations and orders have been issued for violations of these standards.

“It is absolutely imperative that mine operators conduct examinations of mines each day to assure they are in compliance with the Rules to Live By and examination standards linked to most of the mining deaths,” MSHA administrator Joseph A. Main said in a press release. “While we have seen some progress, we are not where we need to be if these fatalities are to be prevented.”

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