Mine operators show significant safety improvements

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: workplace safety
The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced December 7 that six of the eight mine operations that received written warnings last June for exhibiting a potential pattern of violations have met or exceeded the necessary criteria for reducing violation rates. MSHA continues to monitor the progress of one mine that underwent a change in ownership and mine management, while the other mine that received a warning has been inactive since July. At the same time, MSHA notified 20 additional mine operators that they have met the criteria for a potential pattern of violations.

"The operators that received the first letter in June knew they needed to make serious changes to improve their safety records, and change they did," said Richard E. Stickler, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "They have successfully and dramatically reduced their significant and substantial (S&S) violation rates — on average, by 50 percent.

"But their work is not yet done," he added. "We strongly encourage these mine operators to continue to improve their compliance records until their mines are violation free, and we will continue to conduct our inspections in a rigorous fashion. Hopefully, they will serve as an example to the other 20 operators to improve their compliance rates."

MSHA closely monitored the seven mines' compliance records for 90 days. In order to be removed from consideration for this round of pattern of violations notices, operations needed to reduce their S&S violation frequency rate for the 90-day review period by 30 percent or to levels below the national average. They were encouraged to develop a written corrective action plan to reduce S&S violations and to avoid violations caused by imminent dangers, failure to abate previously cited violations, and unwarrantable failures to comply with safety and health standards. An S&S violation is one that could reasonably be expected to lead to a serious injury or illness.

Operator name

S&S violation rate

#77 Mine/Blue Diamond Coal Co.

71 percent reduction

Black King/Elk Run Coal Co.

32 percent reduction

Chess Processing/Elk Run Coal Co.

47 percent reduction

Eagle #1/Peachtree Ridge Mining Co.

Temporarily idled as of July 10, 2007

Oak Grove Mine/Oak Grove Resources

New review period to be initiated due to change in ownership/mine management

Oro Grande Quarry/Riverside Cement Co.

54 percent reduction

Straight Creek #1/Left Fork Mining Co. Inc.

60 percent reduction

Tilden Mine/Tilden Mining Co.

45 percent reduction

Federal regulations require that MSHA review at least annually the compliance records of each mine to identify those with potential patterns of violations. Going forward, MSHA intends to conduct at least two screenings per year to identify mines that exhibit potential patterns of violations.

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