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Inspections at mines in seven US states identify more than 120 health & safety violations

03 November 2023

The US Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has announced the results of its latest series of impact inspections at mines across the US. The agency completed inspections at nine mines in seven states in September 2023, issuing 123 violations.

Begun after a 2010 explosion killed 29 miners in West Virginia at the Upper Big Branch Mine, monthly impact inspections are conducted at mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to poor compliance history; previous accidents, injuries, and illnesses; and other compliance concerns.

To date, MSHA’s impact inspections in 2023 have identified 2,092 violations, including 604 significant and substantial (S&S) and 40 unwarrantable failure findings. An S&S violation is one reasonably likely to cause a reasonably serious injury or illness. Violations designated as unwarrantable failures occur when an inspector finds aggravated conduct that constitutes more than ordinary negligence.
Of the 123 violations identified by MSHA in September, 17 were evaluated as S&S.

The agency completed September’s inspections at mines in Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia.

“The September impact inspections underscore that mine operators need to remain vigilant in ensuring the health and safety of miners,” said Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Chris Williamson. “We remain deeply concerned that inspectors continue to find repeat violations that we’ve identified as root causes in other fatal mining accidents, including inadequate workplace examinations and lack of training.

“Given the troubling increase in fatalities this year, MSHA again calls on everyone in the mining community to pay close attention to hazards and conditions that put miners’ health and safety at risk,” Williamson added.

Among the mines inspected in September was the Marblehead Aggregates quarry in Marblehead, Ohio. Selected given its previous enforcement history, the mine is operated by Holcim Quarries NY Inc. The inspection identified 25 violations, including 6 S&S. Specifically, MSHA inspectors found the following conditions existed at the mine:

- Failure to conduct adequate workplace examinations. Inadequate examinations have contributed to fatal mine accidents and disabling injuries and have been identified as a root cause in a number of the fatalities the mining industry has suffered this year. MSHA has placed a priority on improving workplace examinations including the identification, correction and documentation of hazardous conditions, to ensure miners’ safety and health.

- Other hazards that led to S&S violations, some of which were also repeat violations, related to the operator’s failure to install and maintain guards; provide or maintain a safe means of access to various work areas around the mine; maintain working areas free from slip, trip and fall hazards; and provide berms at the appropriate height along the edge of a roadway with a steep drop-off into a pond.

Read more about the latest inspections here:

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