Main discusses efforts to improve mine safety

Pittsburgh – Mine safety is moving in a positive direction thanks to efforts by the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the mining industry, agency administrator Joseph A. Main said in a recent speech (.pdf file).

Speaking June 13 at a seminar sponsored by Pennsylvania State University’s Miner Training Program, Main said targeted “impact” inspections have led to improved compliance. Since MSHA began impact inspections in September 2010, both violations per inspection hour and the total lost-time injury rate at inspected mines have fallen 13 percent, according to Main.

Additionally, the agency has addressed lingering issues, such as the backlog of contested citations and relatively inexperienced inspection staff. Main noted that the 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia “shook the very foundation of mine safety.” The explosion caused MSHA to see the need for more aggressive enforcement and giving miners a voice in the workplace, he said.

MSHA has made other changes, such as oversight and training of inspectors, safety initiatives, new rules on rock dusting (.pdf file) and work area examinations, and training for stakeholders.

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