A labor organization has launched a petition drive in an effort to move OSHA’s stalled crystalline silica proposal forward.
The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) created the petition on the White House web site Jan. 12. It asserts that silica causes both silicosis and cancer and claims that workers have been dying from exposure for about 100 years. The deadline for signing is today.
Two West Virginia men died last week in separate coal mining accidents.
According to MSHA's preliminary report, Brandon E. Townsend, an engineer, was troubleshooting a plate type filter press when a hydraulic cylinder catastrophically failed and struck him. The press was in operation while an evaluation was being conducted due to a programmable logic controller-related problem.
Any casual observer had to know it was going to happen sooner or later. That is, that a mine operator tired of being pushed around by miners’ MSHA-backed right to file discrimination claims would decide to push back.
MSHA chief Joe Main is keeping his promise to miners to use the government’s resources to protect them when they exercise their right to make safety complaints.
"MSHA urges miners to exercise their rights, and actively participate in monitoring safety and health conditions," Main said in a press release touting MSHA’s anti-discrimination efforts that was released today. "We take these rights under the Mine Act very seriously and will vigorously investigate all discrimination complaints."
A total of 3,477 mining operations closed out 2011 without a single MSHA citation or assessable order, according to data supplied by MSHA’s Program Evaluation and Information Resources group. Most employed few workers, but 22 had 35 or more miners on the job. They are:
MSHA’s new pattern of violations (POV) rule will have “far-reaching implications,” according to a National Mining Association (NMA) official.
“I don’t think you can limit it to coal,” said Senior Vice President Bruce Watzman in response to a call-in question from this newsletter about the impact of the POV rule on underground coal. The question came during a press briefing NMA held today at its Washington, D.C. headquarters.
An Eastern Kentucky contract welder killed in an accident Saturday has become the first U.S. coal mining fatality in 2013.
According to preliminary reports from MSHA and the state Energy and Environment Cabinet, Jerry A. Watts, 52, of Slemp in Perry County was trying to remove a damaged portion of the center push blade on a Caterpillar D10R bulldozer at about 11:25 a.m. when a jack slipped, causing the liner to strike Watts in the head.
He was pronounced dead by Leslie County Coroner Greg Walker.
MSHA has released a Program Information Bulletin (PIB) that calls on underground bituminous coal mine operators to measure coal mine dusts and points to a NIOSH publication on a new technology for getting the job done in real time.
MSHA’s impact inspection sweep of eight Coal mines and three Metal/Non-Metal (M/NM) operations in December produced one of the lowest numbers of violations since the impact inspection program was launched after the Upper Big Branch-South tragedy.
Agency inspectors wrote 150 citations and nine orders at seven Appalachian coal operations and another in Colorado, and at two Western metal mines and at a Missouri lime producer.
A government audit report has found that MSHA’s enforcement of aggregate mines in South Dakota has not been excessive, but the conclusion has left some stakeholders disappointed.
"Our analysis did not provide any evidence indicating that mines in South Dakota were unduly targeted for enforcement," said Elliot P. Lewis, Assistant Inspector General for Audit within the Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General (OIG), in a report released Jan. 15.
A Western Kentucky aggregate worker has become the first U.S. mining fatality in 2013.
The accident at 9:25 a.m. Jan. 7 occurred when a large rock fell on the victim as he worked in a man-lift collecting rock samples from the highwall.
According to a preliminary report released Jan. 23 by MSHA, Todd Sumlin, 49, Assistant Plant Manager at Lafarge West, Inc.’s Three Rivers Quarry in Livingston County, was hospitalized after the accident and died Jan. 19. Sumlin had more than 30 years of mining experience.
A former superintendent at the Upper Big Branch-South (UBB) Mine in West Virginia will spend 21 months in prison and pay a $20,000 fine for his part in an alleged conspiracy to skirt safety at the mine.
Gary May was sentenced this morning in U.S. District Court in Beckley to one felony count of conspiracy. He received the maximum sentence under federal sentencing guidelines. He could have gotten five years in prison.
If mine operators had hopes that their comments about MSHA’s proposed pattern of violations (POV) rule would encourage MSHA to make substantial revisions, those hopes have been dashed with release today of a final POV rule that is a near mirror image of the proposal.
A contract worker has been killed at a natural gas drilling site on mine property in West Virginia.
According to MSHA spokesman Jesse Lawder, the worker reportedly died when a drill rig overturned and crushed the victim. The rig was conducting exploratory work for Marcellus shale deposits near Consol Energy’s Loveridge Mine in Marion County.
“The drill rig was drilling 30 foot deep holes and setting off shots for the purpose of seismic testing for potential Marcellus drilling,” Lawder said.
If a recent survey on federal government employee satisfaction is representative, black civil servants at MSHA are not a happy lot.
In her resignation letter to staff on Wednesday, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, citing achievements during her nearly four-year tenure, said calendar year 2011 was the safest ever for miners.
That, of course, is not accurate – the safest year was 2009 - but why call attention to such a minor gaffe when the announcement occasioned by her letter was far more momentous? Because it symbolized in a roundabout way the disengaged relationship she had with the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
A hazard alert posted today by MSHA lists a variety of control measures that can be used to reduce diesel particulate matter (DPM) exposures to regulatory limits, and an article in a trade publication advocates applying such controls systematically.
In the alert, which was prepared by OSHA in conjunction with MSHA, a number of engineering controls are listed. They are
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May 29, Piedmont Triad Transportation Management Center, Greensboro, NC
June 4-6, Holiday Inn and Suites North Beach, Virginia Beach, VA
June 4-6, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Mine Safety Training Center, Cadiz, OH
Current Regulatory Agenda
Proposed (P) Final (F)
(F) Pattern of Violations Issued Jan '13
(F) Prox Detect Devices:CMMs May '13
(F) Respirable Coal Dust Jun '13
(P) Prox Detect Devices UG Jul '13
(P) Civil Penalties Jan '13
(P) Legal Identity Not. Jul '13
(P) Silica Aug '13
(P) Testing Fees Aug '13
(F) Update Signage Mar '13
(F) Coop. Agreements Apr '13
(F) Update NAICS May13
(F) Confined Space Construction Jul '13
(F) Slips, Trips, Falls Aug '13
(P) Silica May '13
(P) Inj/Ill Reporting May '13
(P) Combustible Dust Oct '13
(P) I2P2 Dec '13
- Coal 8
- Aggregates 2
- Other M/NM 5
- Coal 19
- Aggregates 10
- Other M/NM 6
- Coal 21
- Aggregates 8
- Other M/NM 8
- Coal 48
- Aggregates 9
- Other M/NM 14