WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor has announced that monthly impact inspections by its Mine Safety and Health Administration at 16 mines in 12 states in March identified 205 violations, including 52 significant and substantial findings.
In Nevada, MSHA conducted an impact inspection at Nevada Gold Mines’ Meikle Mine, part of the Goldstrike underground operation. MSHA issued four citations at the Meikle Mine. None of the citations were for significant and substantial findings.
Impact inspections are done at mines which MSHA determines merit increased agency attention and enforcement related to poor compliance history; previous accidents, injuries, and illnesses; and other compliance concerns.
MSHA conducted its March impact inspections at mines in Alabama, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Indiana Minnesota, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, and West Virginia.
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In the first three months of 2023, the agency’s inspections identified 579 violations, including 165 significant and substantial and 13 unwarrantable failure findings. A significant and substantial violation is one which MSHA believes is reasonably likely to cause a reasonably serious injury or illness.
“The Mine Safety and Health Administration remains focused on identifying conditions that can lead to serious accidents and put miners at increased risk of developing entirely preventable occupational illnesses,” said Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Chris Williamson. “Impact inspections are an important enforcement tool that we will continue to use to protect miners’ safety and health.”
Details about a March impact inspection at an underground coal mine in Kentucky’s Harlan County were provided by MSHA as an example of the potential hazards miners face. MSHA conducted a health impact inspection on March 21 at INMET Mining’s D-21 Mine in Cumberland, where the mine operator has a history of silica overexposures. About 20 times more toxic than coal dust alone, high levels of silica exposure increase miners’ risk of developing debilitating and potentially deadly occupational illnesses, such as silicosis, black lung disease and cancer.
MSHA inspectors issued 20 citations at INMET’s D-21 Mine for violations of various safety and health standards, including 11 significant and substantial findings. The inspection found the operator failed to follow federally approved mine ventilation and roof-control plans and did not provide miners with a safe and healthy workplace.
According to MSHA, a sound roof control plan is essential for controlling the roof, face and ribs, including coal or rock bursts in underground coal mines. MSHA said that by not posting a visible warning for an unsupported crosscut, the operator put miners in danger of walking inadvertently into an unsupported area that could collapse.