Medical Standards Addressed By MSHA Action Plan

MSHA Medical Standards have been ignored, resulting in an Agency Action Plan to come into compliance.A new action plan is being announced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to address a longstanding situation of employees not meeting theMSHA medical standards established by the Agency and the Office of Personnel Management. Shockingly, some employees have not met the MSHA medical standards for several years.

Under the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) guidelines, all MSHA inspectors and technical personnel are required to have periodic medical examinations and meet OPM-approved MSHA medical standards as a condition of employment.  Medical examinations, including tests for vision and hearing, are required on a periodic basis. During routine reviews the deficiency was initial uncovered.  After a more complete review, however, where MSHA reviewed examination results of workers, they determined that approximately 15 to 20 percent of MSHA inspectors and technical personnel did not currently meet the MSHA medical standards. Furthermore, the problem had been growing over the past several years.

The information was passed to The Department of Labor where immediate action was take to develop an effective, consistent, and equitable plan to resolve the issue.

In response, the Agency will implement an individualized assessment process for employees who do not meet the MSHA medical standards. The process will incorporate requirements for reasonable accommodation, resolve issues efficiently and effectively, and be conducted in a consistent and fair manner.The Agency management is completely committed to systematically providing procedures that will enable the current workers to come back into compliance with current medical standards.

MSHA has openly stated that they will be transparent throughout this process. Their goal is to accomplish the compliancy to the MSHA medical standards while being mindful of employees’ privacy concerns. MSHA will work with stakeholders, including the employees’ union, and keep them informed. All parties agree that the action plan is needed and employees with be given the utmost respect and adequate considerations with regard to obtaining their medical clearance.

Are you a new Surface Miner? If so, you’ll need to take your New Surface Miner Education and Training very soon and before you can report to work. Just click on this link to learn more about our training program that you can complete in less than a week.

If you are due for your MSHA Surface Miner Annual Renewal Training, as mandated by MSHA, you can take that, too. Find out more on our site today!


Trolley Accident Claims Life of Mine Worker

Trolley accident claims life of mine worker.On May 18th, 2017, forty-four-year-old utility miner, Luches Rosser, was involved in a trolley accident which cost him his life. While traveling in a trolley-powered supply locomotive with a co-worker, the locomotive’s trolley pole became disconnected from the overhead wire. Rosser attempted to readjust the trolley pole to ensure contact with the wire, while the supply locomotive was still moving, and was struck in the head by a portion of the mine roof support. The injuries sustained from contact with the roof proved fatal for Rosser.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) cites the following procedures as best-practices involving these circumstances to avoid a trolley accident:

  • Stop trolley-powered vehicles before attempting to place trolley pole back on the trolley wire
  • Always face the direction of travel and exercise extreme caution in low clearance areas, as mining conditions often change, rapidly
  • Keep all body parts within the operator’s compartment while a vehicle is in motion
  • Stay below the highest part of a vehicle frame or windshield, especially when travelling through low clearance areas
  • Install signs to warn miners of approaching low clearance areas and train miners to reduce speed in those areas
  • Conduct proper travel-way examinations to identify and mitigate the hazards presented by low clearances
  • Properly install and maintain trolley wires/trolley poles to eliminate areas where trolley pole is prone to coming off the trolley wire
  • Examine the trolley pole harp for excessive wear

Powered haulage accidents are among the most common in the mining industry. A Trolley accident is one of these incidents where proper protocol and good safety knowledge can be the difference between life and death. They are potentially avoidable with adequate advisement and implementation of a safety system and proper maintenance of workspaces and equipment.

Miners can obtain safety training by taking the New Surface Miner Training Program or by enrolling in the Annual Renewal Program for a review of common safety protocols.


Flagrant Violations at NY Company Cited by MSHA

Flagrant Violations at Quarry result in fatality and huge MSHA fine.A settlement was recently reached between the United States Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and New York-based North American Quarry and Construction Services, LLC, regarding non-compliance claims, following the November 2012 death of a thirty-year-old driller employee at the Mt Marion Pit and Mill. North American Quarry agreed to pay $360,000 in penalties and accept three flagrant violations and one “high” negligence violation, in addition to $6,000 in penalties assessed to the contractor’s foreman. This settlement came on the eve of the trial between the contractor and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Mt. Marion Pit and Mill is owned and operated by Northeast Solite Corporation. At the time of the accident, North American Quarry was a subsidiary of the Austin Powder Company.

On Nov. 1, 2012, a thirty-year-old driller, contracted by North American Quarry and Construction Services, LLC, attempted to manually load a threaded drill steel into the mast of a drilling machine at the pit when he became entangled in the rotating drill steel and suffered fatal injuries.

MSHA determined that the following infractions existed that included flagrant violations:

·      North American Quarry intentionally removed an emergency-stop switch from the drill prior to the accident

·      North American Quarry assigned the driller to work alone – amid hazardous conditions – and without adequate contact or communication with others. He was the only North American Quarry employee working at the mine when the incident occurred

·      Inadequate training on how to load the steel, on behalf of the contractor’s foreman

OSHA representative, Patricia W. Silvey, said, “The Mine Safety and Health Administration believes that this settlement promotes our mission to provide the nation’s miners with a safe and healthful work environment.”

Mining and drilling accidents are often avoidable the case of  flagrant violations, a company willfully and knowingly engage in unsafe practices that can injure or kill workers. In such cases the company is guilty of not providing a safe environment and is usual subject to the harshest of penalties.

During New Surface MinerTraining and Annual Renewal Training, students cover many aspects of safety, communication, line of authority and good business practices. These course are available to you at any time and can be completed online from the comfort of your home in less than a week.

EU Passes Conflict Minerals Import Legislation

The EU Passed legislation regarding conflict minerals.On April 3rd, 2017, the European Council adopted regulatory standards aimed at stopping the financing of armed groups through the trade of conflict minerals.

The conflict minerals, namely tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold are used in everyday products, such as, mobile phones, jewelry, and automobiles. In conflict areas, these materials are often mined through forced-labor, in an effort to increase funding for illegal activities or organizations. As such, the Council has applied these “due-diligence rules”, in an effort to mandate that all importers source responsibly.

The new legislation will become legally binding in January of 2021 for all 28 member-countries of the European Union and comes after three years of debate as to the efficacy of the ruling. Other controversy surrounding the legislation concerns the fact that certain importers under an import volume threshold are exempt and the fact that there are other mineral resources, such as cobalt, which some argue should be covered under the heading of “due-diligence” sourcing in addtion to the conflict minerals

This legislation bears relation to United States policy, in that U.S. President, Donald Trump, recently announced his intention to review the provisions of the Dodd-Frank law, a law which governs mineral imports to the U.S. The European Council’s own law is based upon and owes precedence to the United States law. Furthermore, the Council’s passing of the legislation follows the U.S. President’s announcement, concerning Dodd-Frank.

The new EU ruling outlines a parallel in the consideration of mineral imports between the United States and Europe, two prominent trading partners. Any legislations regarding the responsible sourcing of minerals, overseas, could certainly have ramifications on United States policy.

The mining industry is an inherently dangerous one. Any industry leader tasked with overseeing the safety of employees in a mining workplace would be well-served to utilize an MSHA-approved training course to ensure agency compliance.

Are you a new surface miner that needs to complete their mandatory MSHA Training? You can complete our New Surface Miner Training Program in less than a week and be on your way to working! 

If you need to complete your annual renewal training we can provide that also!

Hazardous Opening Violations From MSHA Target Texas Mine Company

Hazardous Opening Violations Lead to MSHA Citations for Texas Mining CompanyHazardous Opening violations were cited by the United States Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)  in the death of a 46 year-old maintenance worker, Roderick Barnes. The Agency issued citations to Texas-based open pit mine and cement facility, Ash Grove Cement Company, and labor and equipment contractor, Superior Construction Maintenance, for various violations. These citations came as the result of a May 10th, 2016 MSHA investigation, which was prompted by the fatality . Both Ash Grove and Superior Construction, who was contracted by Ash Grove for labor at their facility, were found deficient in their processes.

MSHA determined that Barnes, who was asked to attend to a slurry tank rake by his supervisor, fell approximately 50 feet through a hazardous opening in the floor grating from a platform above the tank, to his death. MSHA determined that the following violations existed:

·      Failure to provide protective devices to protect persons or materials from falling into the 3’ x 4’ opening in the floor

·      Failure to ensure barricades and warning signs were provided to notify employees of the 3’ x 4’ opening in the floor

·      Failure to ensure the use of fall-protection in a hazardous environment

In total, Ash Grove and Superior Construction Maintenance were issued 3 and 2 citations, respectively. Corrective actions taken to prevent recurrence of accidents at the site were as follows:

·      Implementation of Hazardous Opening Protection Plan

·      Implementation of Hazardous Opening & Handrail Removal Permit

·      Implementation of Working at Heights Permit Program

·      Installation of substantial barricades to prevent entry at floor-grating hole

·      Posting of readily visible & legible warning signs at all points of entry, displaying the nature of the hazardous opening and protective action required

·      Development of a written fall protection policy

·      Training of all affected miners on the use of appropriate fall protection and the mandatory policy for use of those systems

Fall-protection and signage to notify employees of the necessity and mandatory policy for the use of fall protection are necessary for all employees in the mining industry. One resource that safety leaders can utilize to ensure MSHA compliance and the safety of their employees is a MSHA-approved training course such as the New Surface Miner Training Package and the Surface Miner Annual Renewal Package available.


MSHA Walk And Talk Visits To Emphasize Safety

Walk and Talk Visits targeting Safety Awareness being used by MSHAIn efforts to improve safety, MSHA will institute a series of walk and talk visits in efforts to reduce coal mining injuries and fatalities.

From October 2015 to August 2016, there have been over 1,000 injuries and 8 deaths in coal mines. The majority of injuries in these cases were due to, otherwise, avoidable issues. Of those causes of coal-mine injuries, those related to, powered haulage, machinery classification, and electrical malfunction, have proven to be the most frequent. Long identified as a dangerous field of work, coal-mining is now undergoing a national call to safety.

The United States Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is instituting a series of walk and talk  visits, throughout the country, in an effort to reduce those, otherwise, avoidable incidents of injury and to eliminate those accidents which have proven fatal. This national program is in response to the overwhelming amount of accidents which not only affect the health of the average coal miner, but also often result in restricted duty or missed days at work. Through September 30th, inspectors will visit coal miners who work in underground mines and will encourage them to “stop and take a breath”.

MSHA administrator, Joseph A. Main, said, “These walk and talk visits are intended to increase miners’ awareness of recent accidents, encourage the application of safety training and raise hazard recognition.”

Of those coal mine-related accidents, West Virginia led all states with 419 non-fatal incidents. Kentucky was next, with 191, followed by Pennsylvania, with 130, and Illinois, with 94. Twenty-one states recorded at least one incident.

The safety and livelihood of the coal miner is, oftentimes, dependent upon the supervision of a knowledgeable supervisor. Walk and Talk Visit have proven to be effective in boosting awareness and encouraging good safety practices. One resource which coal mining safety leaders may choose to utilize are MSHA-approved safety training courses.  A program to educate safety leaders and, subsequently, to implement a system of safety protocol, especially one that institutes a “stop and take a breath” rest period for coal mining employees, could effectively reduce unnecessary injury and downtime for employees. Courses for New Surface Miners and Annual Renewal Programs are available online for education and training of all personnel.



Drill Entanglement Alert Promotes Better Practice

Drill Entanglement Targeted by MSHA in Agency AlertThe Department of Labor’s Mine Health and Safety Administration  (MSHA) is issuing a Drill Entanglement Safety Alert, in an effort to raise awareness on the risks inherent in the drilling and auguring business and to promote safe drilling practices and MSHA-compliant maintenance of drilling equipment. The MSHA release features a bullet-point style informational, which outlines examples of fatal or serious injuries in the drilling workplace and the best-practices which could have rendered them avoidable. This alert is one in a series of releases, all of which can be found on the MSHA Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health Resources page.

Drill entanglement and auguring accidents are uncommon but not wholly non-existent. In the drilling and auguring industry, alone, there have been seven instances of death in the drilling workplace, since 2002. When including numerous otherwise avoidable accidents, the rate of overall injury warrants concern.

The nature of the drilling workplace is one in which employees work with rotating machinery. Such rotating machinery can prove difficult to completely guard; clothing can become entangled or, worse, body parts, resulting in serious or, potentially, fatal injury. One of the ways that employers can combat this susceptibility for injury in the drilling workplace is by instituting an educational program, whereby employees are informed of the risk, inherent in operating such aforementioned machinery. This is a major topic in both the New Miner Training Program as well as the Miner Refresher Program.  Another useful method for employers is to practice a system where all employees in the drilling workplace are confirmed in line-of-communication to their colleagues. Because of the noisiness of the workplace, drill entanglement injuries are ofttimes unnoticed or the injured go too long without assistance. For this reason, it is important to ensure that the workplace “floor” or layout is situated so that all employees operating drilling machinery have a line-of-sight to their colleagues or are within a functional earshot. The overarching concept is to create a system which features regular and frequent communication between mine operators, contractors, and miners and where employees hold each other accountable in real-time.

There are a bevy of online MSHA certification and compliance training courses. Consider the importance and usefulness of a general mining or mining equipment course and the long-term benefit it may have on your health or the health of your employees.